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CM. 2- 

No, 32 Extra. TRUTH SEEKER LIBRARY. July, 1893. 





u I am not a Christian." LINCOLN. 



r II r V. (Price, 50 cents.) S3 PER YEAR. 

Entered at the Post Office in New York, March 4, '91, as second-class matter. 

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" I am not a Christian." LINCOLN. 



Copyrighted, 1893, 


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ALMOST immediately after the remains of America's 
roost illustrious son were laid to rest at Springfield, 
one of his biographers put forward the claim that he 
was a devout believer in Christianity. The claim 
was promptly denied by the dead statesman's friends, 
but only to be renewed again, and again denied. And 
thus for a quarter of a century the question of Abra- 
ham Lincoln's religious belief has been tossed like a 
battledoor from side to side. 

As a result of this controversy, thousands have 
become interested in a subject that otherwise might 
have excited but little interest. This is the writer's 
apology for collecting the testimony of more than 
one hundred witnesses, and devoting more than three 
hundred pages to the question, "Was Lincoln a 

About few other men has so much been written as 
about Abraham Lincoln ; while no other American's 
life has engaged the pens of so many biographers. 
A thousand volumes record his name and refer to 


his deeds. In a hundred of these he is the central 
figure. Nearly a score of elaborate biographies of 
him have been written. As many more books per- 
taining wholly to his life, his martyrdom, and his 
character have been published. Of the many works 
on Lincoln which the writer has consulted in the 
preparation of this volume, the following deserve to 
be mentioned : Nicolay and Hay's " Life of Lincoln," 
Herndon and Weik's " Life of Lincoln," Lamon's 
"Life of Lincoln," Holland's "Life of Lincoln," 
Arnold's " Life of Lincoln," Raymond's " Life of 
Lincoln," Stoddard's "Life of Lincoln," Barrett's 
" Life of Lincoln," " Every-Day Life of Lincoln," 
Arnold's " Lincoln and Slavery," Carpenter's " Six 
Months at the White House with Lincoln," " Remi- 
niscences of Lincoln," "Anecdotes of Lincoln," 
" Lincolniana," "The President's Words," "The 
Martyr's Monument," " Tribute of the Nations to 
Lincoln," "Lincoln Memorial " and "Lincoln Me- 
morial Album." 

The testimony concerning Lincoln's religious 
belief presented in this volume has been derived 
chiefly from three sources. 1. A part of it has been 
gathered from the works above named. In a single 
volume is published for the first time matter which 
heretofore was only to be found scattered through 
numerous volumes, some of them inaccessible to 
the general reader. 2. A considerable portion of it 


has been gleaned from newspapers and periodicals 
containing statements brought out by this contro- 
versy, many of which would otherwise soon be lost 
or forgotten. 3. A very large share of it has been 
obtained by the writer from personal friends of Lin- 
coln ; and when we realize how rapidly those who 
lived and moved with him are passing away that 
erelong none of them will remain to testify the im- 
portance of this evidence can hardly be overestimated. 

The writer believes that he has fully established 
the negative of the proposition that forms the title 
of his book. He does not expect to silence the 
claims of the affirmative ; but he has furnished an 
arsenal of facts whereby these claims may be ex- 
posed and refuted as often as made. 

This effort to prove -that Lincoln was not a Chris- 
tian will be condemned by many as an attempt to 
fasten a stain upon this great man's character. But 
the demonstration and perpetuation of this fact will 
only add to his greatness. It will show that he 
was in advance of his generation. The fame of 
Abraham Lincoln belongs not to this age alone, but 
will endure for all time. The popular faith is tran- 
sient and must perish. It is unpopular now to reject 
Christianity, but the day is fast approaching when 
to accept its dogmas will oe considered an evidence 
of human weakness. To perpetuate the claim that 
Lincoln was a Christian is to perpetuate an idea 





that in a future age will lessen the luster of his 



It will be urged by some that the intent and pur- 
pose of this work is solely to promote the interests 
of Free thought. But it is not. The writer advo- 
cates no cause that requires the prestige of a great 
name to make it respectable. The cause that re- 
quires the indorsement of the great to sustain it is 
not worthy to survive. He has prosecuted this in- 
vestigation, not in the interest of any belief or 
creed, but in the interest of truth ; and truth is 
certainly as high as any creed, even if that creed 
be true. In proving Lincoln a disbeliever he does 
not presume to have proved Christianity false, nor 
Freethought true ; but he has shown that some 
Christians are not honest, and that an honest man 
may be a Freethinker. 

ATCHISON, KAN., April, 1893. 

. .. 




Dr. J. Gr. Holland Hon. Newton Bateman Rev. J. A. Reed Rev. 
James Smith, -D.D. N. W. Edwards Thomas Lewis Noah Brooks 
Rev. Byron Sunderland, D.D. Rev. Dr. Miner Rev. Dr. Gurley 
Hon. I. N. Arnold F. B. Carpenter Isaac Hawley Rev. Mr. Willets 
A Pious Nurse Western Christian Advocate An Illinois 
Clergyman Rev. J. H. Barrows, D.D. Rev. Francis Vinton, D.D. 
Bishop Simpson. 



Character of Holland's " Life of Lincoln " The Bateman Interview 
Inconsistency and untruthfulness of its statements Holland's Subse- 
quent Modification and Final Abandonment of his original Claims. 



Reed Smith Edwards Lewis Brooks Statements of Edwards, 
Smith, and Brooks Compared Sunderland Miner Gurley Failure of 
Reed to Establish his Claims. 





Arnold's " Life of Lincoln " Claims Concerning Lincoln's Religious 
Belief Address to Negroes of Baltimore Carpenter Hawley Willets 
Pious Nurse Western Christian Advocate Illinois Clergyman 
Barrows Vinton Simpson. 




Herndon's Association with Lincoln Character Writings Com- 
petency as a Witness The Abbott Letter Contribution to the Liberal 
Age Article in the Truth Seeker Herndon's " Life of Lincoln." 




Extracts from Herndon's Letters The Books Lincoln Read His 
Philosophy His Infidelity Refutation of Christian Claims Attempts 
to Invalidate Herndon's Testimony Reed's Calumnies Vindication. 



Lamon's "Life of Lincoln "- -Lincoln's Early Skepticism His Inves- 
tigations at New Salem His Book on Infidelity His Religious Opin- 
ions Remain Unchanged Holland's Condemnation of Lamon's Work 
Holland's and Larnon's Works Compared. 






Testimony of Hon. John T. Stuart Testimony of Col. James H. Ma- 
theny Stuart's Disclaimer Matheny's Disclaimer Examination and 
Authorship of Disclaimers, Including the Edwards and Lewis Letters. 



Dr. C. H. Ray Wm. H. Hannah, Esq. James W. Keys Hon. 
Jesse W. Fell Col. John G. Nicolay Hon. David Davis Mrs. Mary 
Lincoln Injustice to Mrs. Lincoln Answer to Reed's Pretended Ref- 
utation of the Testimony of Lamon's Witnesses. 




Mrs. Sarah Lincoln Dennis F. Hanks Mrs. Matilda Moore John 
Hall Wm. McXeely Mr. Lynan James B. Spaulding Ezra String- 
ham Dr. G. H Ambrose Wm. G. Green Joshua F. Speed John 
Decamp Green Caruthers J. H. Chenery Squire Perkins W. Per- 
kins Hon. Joseph Gillespie James Gorley Dr. Wm. Jayne Hon. 
Jesse K. Dubois Judge Stephen T. Logan Hon. Leonard Swett 




Hon. W. H. T. Wakefleld Hon. D. W. Wilder Dr. B. F. Gardner 
Hon. J. K. Vandermark A. Jeffrey Dr. Arch E. McNeal Charles 
McGrew Edward Butler Joseph Stafford Judge A. D. Norton 



J. L. Morrell Mahlon Ross L. Wilson H. K. Magie Hon. James 
Tuttle Col. F. S. Rutherford Judge Robert Leachraan Hon. Orin B. 
Gould M. S. Gowin Col. R. G. Ingersoll Leonard W. Volk Joseph 
Jefferson Hon. E. B. Washburn Hon. E. M. Haines. 



Hon. Geo. W. Julian Hon. John B. Alley Hon. Hugh McCul- 
loch Donn Piatt Hon. Schuyler Colfax Hon. Geo. S. Boutwell 
Hon. Wm. D. Kelly E. H. Wood Dr. J. J. Thompson Rev. James 
Shrigley Hon. John Covode Jas. E. Murdock Hon. M. B. Field 
Harriet Beecher Stowe Hon. J. P. Usher Hon. S. P. Chase 
Frederick Douglas Mr. Defrees Hon. Wm. H. Seward Judge Aaron 
Goodrich Nicolay and Hay's i; Life of Lincoln " Warren Chase 
Hon. A. J. G rover Judge James M. Nelson. 



New York World Boston Globe Chicago Herald Manford's 
Magazine Herald and Review Chambers's Encyclopedia 
Encyclopedia Britannica People's Library of Information The 
World's Sages Every-Day Life of Lincoln Hon. Jesse W. Weik 
Chas. W. French - Cyrus O. Poole A Citizen of Springfield Henry 
Walker Wm. Bissett Frederick Heath Rev. Edward Eggleston 
Rev Robert Collyer Allen Thorndike Rice Robert C. Adams 
Theodore Stanton-Geo. M. McCrie Gen. M. M. Trumbull Rev. 
David Swing, D.D. Rev. J. Lloyd Jones Rev. John W. Chadwick. 



The Bible and Christianity Chr'st's Divinity Future Rewards and 
Punishments Freedom of Mind Fatalism Providence Lines in' 



Copy-book Parker Paine Opposition of Church Clerical Officious- 
ness Rebuked Irreverent Jokes Profanity Temperance Reform In- 
dorsement of Lord Bolingbroke's Writings Golden Rule. 



Character of Christian Testimony Summary of Evidence Adduced 
in Proof of Lincoln's Unbelief ' ouglas an Unbeliever Theodore 
Parker's Theology Fallacy of Claims Respecting Lincoln's Reputed 
Conversion His Invocations of Deity His Alleged Regard for the 
Sabbath The Church and Hypocrisy Lincoln's Religion. 



WAS Abraham Lincoln a Christian? Many confi- 
dently believe and earnestly contend that he was ; 
others as confidently believe and as earnestly con- 
tend that he was not. 

Before attempting to answer this question, let us 
define what constitutes a Christian. A Christian is 
one who, in common with the adherents of nearly 
all the religions of mankind, believes, 1. In the ex- 
istence of a God ; 2. In the immortality of the soul. 
As distinguished from the adherents of other relig- 
ions, he believes, 1. That the Bible is a revelation 
from God to man; 2. That Jesus Christ was the 
miraculously begotten son of God. He also believes 
in various other doctrines peculiar to Christianity, 
the chief of which are, 1. The fall of man ; 2. The 

Those who in nominally Christian countries reject 
the dogmas of Christianity are denominated Infi- 
dels, Freethinkers, Liberals, Rationalists, unbeliev- 



ers, disbelievers, skeptics, etc. These Infidels, or 
Freethinkers, represent various phases of belief, 
among which are, 1, Deists, who affirm the existence 
of a God and the immortality of the soul ; 2. Atheists, 
who deny the existence of a God, and, generally, the 
soul's immortality ; 3. Agnostics, who neither affirm 
nor deny these doctrines. 

The following are the religious views Lincoln is 
said to have held as presented by those who affirm 
that he was a Christian : 

1. He believed in the existence of a God, and ac- 
cepted the Christian conception of this Being. 

2. He believed in the immortality of the soul, and 
in the Christian doctrine of the resurrection. 

3. He believed that the Bible is a revelation from 
God the only revealed will of God. 

4. He believed in the divinity of Christ believed 
that Christ is God. 

5. He believed in the efficacy of prayer, and was 
accustomed to pray himself. 

6. He believed in the doctrine of experimental re- 
ligion, and had experienced a change of heart. 

7. Although he never united with any church, he 
was contemplating such a step at the time of his as- 

8. The church with which he would have united, 
we are led to infer, was the Presbyterian. 

The following is a statement of the theological 


opinions of Lincoln as understood by those who deny 
that he was a Christian : 

1. In regard to a Supreme Being he entertained at 
times Agnostic and even Atheistic opinions. During 
the later years of his life, however, he professed a 

sort of Deistic belief, but he did not accept the 
Christian or anthropomorphic conception of a 

2. So far as the doctrine of immortality is con- 
cerned, he was an Agnostic. 

3. He did not believe in the Christian doctrine of 
the inspiration of the Scriptures. He believed that 
Burns and Paine were as much inspired as David 
and Paul. 

4. He did not believe in the doctrine of Christ's 
divinity. He affirmed that Jesus was either the son 
of Joseph and Mary, or the illegitimate son of Mary. 

5. He did not believe in the doctrine of a special 

6. He believed in the theory of Evolution, so far 
as this theory had been developed in his time. 

7. He did not believe in miracles and special 
providences. He believed that all things are gov- 
erned by immutable laws, and that miracles and 
special providences, in the evangelical sense of these 
terms, are impossible. 

8. He rejected the doctrine of total, or inherent 


9. He repudiated the doctrine of vicarious atone- 

10. He condemned the doctrine of forgiveness for 

11. He opposed the doctrine of future rewards and 

12. He denied the doctrine of the freedom of the 

13. He did not believe in the efficacy of prayer as 
understood by orthodox Christians. 

14 He indorsed, for the most part, the criticisms 
of Thomas Paine on the Bible and Christianity, and 
accepted, to a great extent, the theological and hu- 
manitarian views of Theodore Parker. 

15. He wrote a book (which was suppressed) 
against the Bible and Christianity. 

16. His connection with public affairs prevented 
him from giving prominence to his religious opin- 
ions during the later years of his life, but his earlier 
views concerning the unsoundness of the Christian 
system of religion never underwent any material 
change, and he died, as he had lived, an unbeliever, 

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Dr. J. G. Holland Hon. Newton Bateinan - Rev. J. A. Reed Rev. 
James Smith. D.D. N. W. Edwards Thomas Lewis Noah Brooks 
Rev. Byron Sunderland, D.D. Rev. Dr. Miner Rev. Dr. Gurley 
Hon. I. N. Arnold F. B. Carpenter -Isaac Hawley Rev. Mr. Willets 
A Pious Nurse -Western Christian Advocate An II inois 
Clergyman Rev. J. H. Burrows. D D. Rev, Francis Yinton, D.D. 
Bishop Simpson. 

IN confirmation of the claim that Lincoln was a 
Christian, the following evidence has been adduced : 


President Lincoln died on the 15th of April, 1865. 
In the same year, the " Life of Abraham Lincoln," 
written by Dr. J. G. Holland, appeared. In the 
fields of poetry and fiction, and as a magazine writer, 
Dr. Holland had achieved- an enviable reputation. 
His "Life of Lincoln' was written in his usually 


entertaining style and secured a wide circulation. 
He affirmed that Lincoln was a Christian, and by 
means of this work, and through Scribner's Magazine, 
of which he was for many years the editor, contrib- 
uted more than any other person to render a belief 
in this claim popular. Referring to Lincoln's admin- 
istration, Dr. Holland says : 

" The power of a true-hearted Christian man, in 
perfect sympathy with a true-hearted Christian peo- 
ple, was Mr. Lincoln's power. Open on one side of 
his nature to all descending influences from him to 
whom he prayed, and open on the other to all as- 
cending influences from the people whom he served, 
he aimed simply to do his duty to God and man. 
Acting rightly he acted greatly. While he took 
care of deeds fashioned by a purely ideal standard, 
God took care of results. Moderate, frank, truthful, 
gentle, forgiving, loving, just, Mr. Lincoln will al- 
ways be remembered as eminently a Christian Presi- 
dent ; and the almost immeasurably great results 
which he had the privilege of achieving were due to 
the fact that he was a Christian President " (Life of 
Lincoln, p. 542). 



Dr. Holland's claim rests chiefly upon a confession 
which Lincoln is said to have made to Newton 
Bateman in 1860. During the Presidential campaign 


Lincoln occupied the Executive Chamber at the 
State House. Mr. Bateman was Superintendent of 
Public Instruction at the time, had his office in the 
same building, and was frequently in Lincoln's room. 
The conversation in which Lincoln is alleged to have 
expressed a belief in Christianity is thus related in 
Holland's " Life of Lincoln :" 

" On one of these occasions Mr. Lincoln took up a 
book containing a careful canvass of the city of 
Springfield in which he lived, showing the candidate 
for whom each citizen had declared it his intention to 
vote in the approaching election. Mr. Lincoln's 
friends had, doubtless at his own request, placed 
the result of the canvass in his hands. This was 
toward the close of October, and only a few days be- 
fore the election. Calling Mr. Bateman to a seat at 


his side, having previously locked all the doors, he 
said : ' Let us look over this book. I wish particu- 
larly to see how the ministers of Springfield are going 
to vote.' The leaves were turned, one by one, and 
as the names were examined Mr. Lincoln frequently 
asked if this one and that were not a minister, or an 
elder, or the member of such or such a church, and 
sadly expressed his surprise on receiving an affirma- 
tive answer. In that manner they went through the 
book, and then he closed it and sat silently and for 


some minutes regarding a memorandum in pencil 
which lay before him. At length he turned to Mr. 


Bateman, with a face full of sadness, and said : ' Here 
are twenty-three ministers, of different denomina- 
tions, and all of them are against me but three ; and 
here are a great many prominent members of the 
churches, a very large majority of whom are against 
me. Mr. Bateman, I am not a Christian God 
knows I would be one but I have carefully read the 
Bible, and I do not so understand this book ;' and he 
drew from his bosom a pocket New Testament. 
' These men well know,' he continued, ' that I am for 
freedom in the territories, freedom everywhere as 
far as the Constitution and laws will permit, and that 
my opponents are for slavery. They know this, 
and yet, with this book in their hands, in the light 
of which human bondage cannot live a moment, they 
are going to vote against me. I do not understand 
it at all.' Here Mr. Lincoln paused paused for 
long minutes his features surcharged with emotion. 
Then he rose and walked up and down the room in 
the effort to retain or regain his self-possession. 
Stopping at last, he said, with a trembling voice and 
his cheeks wet with tears : ' I know there is a God, 
and that he hates injustice and slavery. I see the 
storm coming, and I know that his hand is in it. If 
he has a place for me and I think he has I believe 
I am ready. I am nothing, but truth is everything. 
I know I am right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ 
is God.' 


" The effect of this conversation upon the mind of 
Mr. Bateman, a Christian gentleman whom Mr. Lin- 
coln profoundly respected, was to convince him that 
Mr. Lincoln had, in his quiet way, found a path to 
the Christian standpoint that he had found God, 
and rested on the eternal truth of God. As the two 
men were about to separate, Mr. Bateman remarked : 
' I have not supposed that you were accustomed to 
think so much upon this class of subjects. Certainly 
your friends generally are ignorant of the sentiments 
you have expressed to me.' He replied quickly : ' I 
know they are. I am obliged to appear different to 
them ; but I think more upon these subjects than 
upon all others, and I have done so for years ; and I 
am willing that you should know it ' " (Life of Lin- 
coln, pp. 236-239). 


In 1872, seven years after the publication of Hol- 
land's work, Lamon's " Life of Abraham Lincoln " 
was published. In this work the statements of Hol- 
land and Bateman concerning Lincoln's religious 
belief are disputed, and the testimony of numerous 
witnesses cited to prove that he lived and died a dis- 
believer. Soon after Lamon's book was published, 
the Rev. J. A. Reed, a Presbyterian clergyman, of 
Springfield, 111., delivered a lecture in which he at- 
tempted to refute or modify the evidence of Lamon's 



witnesses and prove that Lincoln died a Christian. 
He admitted that Lincoln was an Infidel up to 1848, 
and possibly as late as 1862, but endeavored to show 
that previous to his death he changed his views and 
became a Christian. The following extracts present 
the salient points in his discourse : 

" Having shown what claims Mr. Lamon's book 
has to being the * only fair and reliable history ' of 
Mr. Lincoln's life and views, and of what 'trust- 
worthy materials ' it is composed, I shall now give 
the testimony I have collected to establish what has 
ever been the public impression, that Mr. Lincoln 
was in his later life, and at the time of his death, a 
firm believer in the truth of the Christian religion. 
The Infidelitv of his earlier life is not so much to be 


wondered at, when we consider the poverty of his 
early religious instruction and the peculiar influences 

by which he was surrounded." 


" It does not appear that he had ever seen, much 
less read, a work pn the evidences of Christianity till 
his interview with Kev. Dr. Smith in 1848. We hear 

of him as reading Paine, Voltaire, and Theodore 


" While it is to be regretted that Mr. Lincoln was 
not spared to indicate his religious sentiments by a 
profession of his faith in accordance with the insti- 
tutiofes of the Christian religion, yet it is very clear 
that he had this step in view, :md was seriously con- 


templating it, as a sense of its fitness and an appre- 
hension of his duty grew upon him.' 

In support of his claims, Dr. Eeed presents the 
testimony of Eev. Dr. Smith, Ninian W. Edwards, 
Thomas Lewis, Noah Brooks, Eev. Dr. Sunderland, 
Eev. Dr. Miner, and Eev. Dr. Gurley. 


The Eev. James Smith was for many years pastor 
of the First Presbyterian Church of Springfield. 
Lincoln formed his acquaintance soon after he lo- 
cated there, remained on friendly terms with him, 
and with Mrs. Lincoln frequently attended his 
church. Dr. Smith was one of the three Springfield 
clergymen who supported Lincoln for President in 
1860, and in recognition of his friendship and fidel- 
ity, he received the consulship at Lhindee. Dr. Eeed 
quotes from a letter to W. H. Herndon, dated East 
Cainno, Scotland, January 24, 1867, in which Dr. 
Smith says : 

" It is a very easy matter to prove that while I was 
pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Spring- 
field, Mr. Lincoln did avow his belief in the divine 
authority and inspiration of the scriptures, and I 
hold that it is a matter of the last importance not 
only to the present, but all future generations of the 
great Eepublic, and to all advocates of civil and re- 
ligious liberty throughout the world, that this avowal 



on his part, and the circumstances attending it, 
together with very interesting incidents illustrative 
of the excellence of his character, in my possession, 
should be made known to the public. ... It 
was my honor to place before Mr. Lincoln arguments 
designed to prove the divine authority and inspira- 
tion of the scriptures accompanied by the arguments 
of Infidel objectors in their own language. To the 
arguments 011 both sides Mr. Lincoln gave a most 
patient, impartial, and searching investigation. To 
use his own language, he examined the arguments as 
a lawver who is anxious to reach the truth investi- 


gates testimony. The result was the announcement 
by himself that the argument in favor of the divine 
authority and inspiration of the Scriptures was un- 


Ninian W. Edwards, a brother-in-law of Lincoln, 
writes as follows : 

" Springfield, Dec. 24th, 1872. 
" Rev. Jas. A. Eeed : 
" Dear Sir 

" A short time after the Rev. Dr. Smith became 
pastor of the First Presbyterian church in this city, 
Mr. Lincoln said to me, ' I have been reading a work 
of Dr. Smith on the evidences of Christianity, and 
have heard him preach and converse on the subject, 


and I am now convinced of the truth of the Christian 
religion.' Yours truly, 

" N. W. Edwards." 

In corroboration of Mr. Edwards's statement, 
Thomas Lewis, of Springfield, 111., testifies as fol- 
lows : 

" Springfield, Jan. 6th, 1873. 

" Kev. J. A. Eeed : 
" Dear Sir 

"Not long after Dr. Smith came to Springfield, 
and I think very near the time of his son's death, 
Mr. Lincoln said to me, that when on a visit some- 
where, he had seen and partially read a work of Dr. 
Smith on the evidences of Christianity which had 
led him to change his views about the Christian 
religion ; that he would like to get that work to 
finish the reading of it, and also to make the ac- 
quaintance of Dr. Smith. I was an elder in Dr. 
Smith's church, and took Dr. Smith to Mr. Lincoln's 
office and introduced him ; and Dr. Smith gave Mr. 
Lincoln a copy of his book, as I know, at his own 
request. Yours etc., 

" Thos. Lewis." 


Noah Brooks, a newspaper correspondent of New 



York, and the author of a biography of Lincoln, 
gives the following testimony : 

"New York, Dec. 31, 1872. 
" Eev. J. A. Reed, 

" My Dear Sir : 
" In addition to what has appeared from my pen, 
I will state that I have had many conversations with 
Mr. Lincoln, which were more or less of a religious 
character, and while I never tried to draw anything 
like a statement of his views from him, yet he freely 
expressed himself to me as having ' a hope of blessed 
immortality through Jesus Christ.' His views 
seemed to settle so naturally around that statement, 
that I considered no other necessary. His language 
seemed not that of an inquirer, but of one 
who had a prior settled belief in the fundamental 
doctrines of the Christian religion. Once or twice, 
speaking to me of the change which had come upon 
him, he said, while he could not fix any detinite 
time, yet it was after lie came here, and I am very 
positive that in his own mind he identified it with 
about the time of Willie's death. He said, too, that 


after he went to the White House he kept up the 
habit of daily prayer. Sometimes he said it was 
only ten words, but those ten words he had. There 
is no possible reason to suppose that Mr. Lincoln 
would ever deceive me as to his religious sentiments. 
In many conversations with him, I absorbed the firm 


conviction that Mr. Lincoln was at heart a Christian 
man, believed in the Savior, and was seriously con- 
sidering the step which would formally connect him 
with the visible church on earth. Certainly, any 
suggestion as to Mr. Lincoln's skepticism or Infidel- 
ity, to me who knew him intimately from 1862 till 
the time of his death, is a monstrous fiction a 
shocking perversion. 

" Yours truly, 

" Noah Brooks." 


Mr. Reed presents a lengthy letter from the Rev. 
Byron Sunderland, of Washington, dated Nov. 15, 
1872. Dr. Sunderland in company with a party of 
friends visited the President in the autumn of 1862. 
In this letter he says : 

"After some conversation, in which he seemed 
disposed to have his joke and fun, he settled down 
to a serious consideration of the subject before his 
mind, and for one half-hour poured forth a volume 
of the deepest Christian philosophy I ever heard." 


The Rev. Dr. Miner, who met Lincoln in Washing- 
ton, says : 

" All that was said during that memorable after- 
noon I spent alone with that great and good man is 



engraven too deeply on my memory ever to be 
effaced. I felt certain of this fact, that if Mr. Lin- 
coln was not really an experimental Christian, he 
was acting like one. He was doing his duty man- 
fully, and looking to God for help in time of need ; 
and, like the immortal Washington, he believed in 
the efficacy of prayer, and it was his custom to read 
the Scriptures and pray himself." 


While in Washington, Lincoln with his family 
attended the Presbyterian church of which the Rev. 
Dr. Gurley was pastor. Mr. Reed cites the follow- 
ing as the testimony of Dr. Gurley in regard to the 
alleged Infidelity of Lincoln : 

" I do not believe a word of it. It could not have 
been true of him while here, for I have had frequent 
and intimate conversations with him on the subject 
of the Bible and the Christian religion, when he 
could have had no motive to deceive me, and I con- 
sidered him sound not onlv on the truth of the 


Christian religion but on all its fundamental doctrines 
and teachings. And more than that, in the latter 
days of his chastened and weary life, after the death 
of his son Willie, and his visit to the battlefield of 
Gettysburg, he said, with tears in his eyes, that he 
had lost confidence in everything but God, and that 
he now believed his heart was changed, and that he 


loved the Savior, and, if he was not deceived in him- 
self, it was his intention soon to make a profession 
of religion." 


One of the most ardent friends and admirers of 
Abraham Lincoln was Isaac N. Arnold, for several 
years a member of Congress from Illinois. Mr. 
Arnold wrote a work on " Lincoln and Slavery," and 
a " Life of Lincoln " which was published in 1885. 
Lincoln's religious views are thus described by Mr. 
Arnold : 

"No more reverent Christian than he ever sat in 
the Executive chair, not excepting Washington. He 
was by nature religious ; full of religious sentiment. 
The veil between him and the supernatural was very 
thin. It is not claimed that he was orthodox. For 
creeds and dogmas he cared little. But in the* gyeat 
fundamental principles of religion, of the Christian 
religion, he was a firm believer. Belief in the exist- 
ence of God, in the immortality of the soul, in the 
Bible as the revelation of God to man, in the efficacy 
and duty of prayer, in reverence toward the Almighty, 
and in love and charity to man, was the basis of his 
religion " (Life of Lincoln, p. 446). 

"His reply to the Negroes of Baltimore when 
they, in 1864, presented him with a magnificent 
Bible, ought to silence forever those who charge him 




with unbelief. He said : ' In regard to the Great 
Book I have only to say that it is the best gift which 
God has given to man. All the good from the Savior 
of the world is communicated through this book ' " 
(Ibid., p. 447). 

" His faith in a Divine Providence began at his 
mother's knee, and ran through all the changes of 
his life. Not orthodox, not a man of creeds, he was 
a man of simple trust in God " (Ib., p. 448). 


Mr. Carpenter, the artist, in his popular book, 
entitled " Six Months in the White House with 
Abraham Lincoln," uses the following language : 

" I would scarcely have called Mr. Lincoln a re- 
ligious man and yet I believe him to have been a 
sincere Christian " (Six Months in the White House, 
p. 185). 


In the spring of 1887, in going from Springfield 
to Havana, I met Isaac Hawley, one of the early 
settlers of Illinois, and who for nearly twenty years 
resided within a few blocks of Lincoln in Springfield. 
In answer to the question, " Was Lincoln a Chris- 
tian?" Mr. Hawley replied: 

" I believe that Lincoln was a Christian, and that 
he was God's chosen instrument to perform the 
mighty work he did." 



The Eev. Mr. Willets, of Brooklyn, N. Y., is cred- 
ited with the following statement concerning Lin- 
coln's reputed conversion. The information it con- 
tains was obtained, it is said, from a lady of Mr. 
Willets's acquaintance who met Lincoln in Washing- 


" The President, it seemed, had been much im- 
pressed with the devotion and earnestness of pur- 
pose manifested by the lady, and on one occasion, 
after she had discharged the object of her visit, he 
said to her : " Mrs. , I have formed a high opin- 
ion of vour Christian character, and now, as we are 


alone, I have a mind to ask you to give me, in brief, 
your idea of what constitutes a true religious expe- 
rience.' The lady replied at some length, stating 
that, in her judgment, it consisted of a conviction of 
one's own sinfulness and weakness, and personal 
need of a Savior for strength and support; that 
views of mere doctrine might and would differ, but 
when one was really brought to feel his need of 
divine help, and to seek the aid of the Holy Spirit 
for strength and guidance, it was satisfactory evi- 
dence of his having been born again. This was the 
substance of her reply. When she had concluded, 
Mr. Lincoln was very thoughtful for a few moments. 
He at length said, very earnestly, * If what you have 


told me is really a correct view of this great subject, 
I think I can say with sincerity that I hope I am a 
Christian ' " (Anecdotes of Lincoln, pp. 166, 167). 


A pious lady, who served in the capacity of a hos- 
pital nurse at Washington, and who sometimes vis- 
ited the White House, testifies to Lincoln's belief in 
the efficacy of prayer. The incident narrated oc- 
curred while a battle was in progress,. The report 

" The possibility of defeat depressed him greatly ; 
but the lady told him he must trust, and that he 
could at least pray. * Yes,' said he, and taking up a 
Bible, he started for his room. Could all the peo- 
ple of the nation have overheard the earnest peti- 
tion that went up from that inner chamber as it 
reached the ears of the nurse, they would have fallen 
upon their knees with tearful and reverential sym- 
pathy " (Anecdotes of Lincoln, p. 120). 


Soon after the close of the war, the Western Chris- 
tian Advocate, the leading Christian journal of the 
West, published the following : 

" On the day of the receipt of the capitulation of 
Lee, as we learn from a friend intimate with the late 
President Lincoln, the cabinet meeting was held an 


hour earlier than usual. Neither the President nor 
any member was able, for a time, to give utterance 
to his feelings. At the suggestion of Mr. Lincoln all 
dropped on their knees, and offered in silence and 
in tears their humble and heartfelt acknowledgment 
to the Almighty for the triumph he had granted 
to the national cause." 

The above is quoted by Baymond and other biog- 
raphers of Lincoln. 


In the " Lincoln Memorial Album " appears 
what is reported to be Lincoln's "Reply to an 
Illinois Clergyman :" 

" When I left Springfield I asked the people to 

pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried 
my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a 
Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg, and saw 
the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and 
there consecrated myself to Christ. Yes, I do love 
Jesus" (L. M. A., p. 366). 


In the " Lincoln Memorial Album," Dr. J. H. 
Barrows contributes an article on " The Beligious 
Aspects of Abraham Lincoln's Career," from which 
I quote as follows : 

" In the anxious uncertainties of the great war, he 


gradually rose to the Lights where Jehovah became 
to him the sublimestof realities, the ruler of nations. 
When he wrote his immortal Proclamation, he 
invoked upon it not only ' the considerate judgment 
of mankind,' but * the gracious favor of Almighty 
God.' When darkness gathered over the brave 
armies fighting for the nation's life, this strong man 
in the early morning knelt and wrestled in prayer 
with him who holds in his hand the fate of empires. 
When the clouds lifted above the carnage of Gettys- 
burg, he gave his heart to the Lord Jesus Christ. 
When he pronounced his matchless oration on the 
chief battlefield of the war, he gave expression to 
the resolve that ' this nation, under God, should 
have a new birth of freedom.' And when he wrote 
his last Inaugural Address, he gave to it the lofty 
religious tone of an old Hebrew psalm ' (L. M. A., 
p. 508). 


This clergyman, a resident of New York, and a 
stranger to Lincoln, visited the White House in 
1862, it is claimed, and indulged in an argument and 
exhortation, the effect of which was to convert the 
President to a belief in the Christian doctrine of the 
resurrection and the immortality of the soul. Dur- 
ing the interview, Lincoln, it is reported, fell upon 
the neck of his clerical visitor and wept like a child. 


Before retiring, Dr. Vinton said : " I have a sermon 
upon this subject which I think might interest you." 
" Mr. Lincoln," the report continues, " begged him 
to send it at an early day, thanking him repeatedly 
for his cheering and hopeful words. The sermon 
was sent, and read over and over by the President, 
who caused a copy to be made for his own private 
use before it was returned " (Anecdotes of Lincoln, 
pp. 107, 108). 


The most eminent Methodist divine of that period 
was Bishop Simpson. During the war his com- 
manding influence and rare eloquence did much to 
secure for the Union cause the united support of 
Northern Methodists. Lincoln appreciated the 
services of the distinguished divine, and they 
became warm friends. When the remains of the 
President were conveyed to their final resting-place 
at Springfield, Bishop Simpson was selected to 
deliver the funeral oration. Alluding to the religious 
phase of Lincoln's character, he spoke as fol- 
lows : 

"As a ruler, I doubt if any President has ever 
shown such trust in God, or in public documents so 
frequently referred to divine aid. Often did he 
remark to friends and to delegations that his hope 
for our success rested in his conviction that God 



would bless our efforts because we were trying to do 
right " (Lincoln and Slavery, p. 673). 




Character of Holland's " Life of Lincoln " TheBateman Interview 
Inconsistency and untruthfulness of its statements Holland's Subse- 
quent Modification and Final Abandonment of his original Claims. 

IN the preceding chapter has been presented the 
Christian side of this question. It has been pre- 
sented fully and fairly. Even the Christian claimant 
must admit that it is the longest and most complete 
array of testimony that has yet been published 
in support of his claim. This evidence is explicit 
and apparently conclusive. To attempt its refutation 
may seem presumptuous. And yet, in the face of all 
this evidence, the writer does not hesitate to declare 
that Abraham Lincoln was not a Christian, and 
pledge himself to refute the statements of these wit- 
nesses by a volume of testimony that is irresistible 
and overwhelming. 

Before introducing this testimony the evidence 
already adduced will be reviewed. This evidence 
may properly be grouped into three divisions : 1. 
The testimony of Holland and Bateman; 2. The 


testimony of Keed and his witnesses; 3. The tes- 
timony of Arnold and the miscellaneous evidence 

Holland's " Life of Lincoln," from a literary point 
of view, is a work of more than ordinary merit. It 
possesses a beauty of diction and an intellectual 
vigor seldom surpassed ; but as an authority it is 
unreliable. Like Weems's " Life of Washington," it 
is simply a biographical romance founded upon fact, 
but paying little regard to facts in presenting the 
details. Following the natural bent of Christian 
biographers, Holland parades the subject of his 
work as a model of Christian piety. He knew that 
this was false ; for, while he was unacquainted with 
Lincoln, he had been apprised of his unbelief had 
been repeatedly told of it before he wrote his 
biography. But this did not deter him from assert- 
ing the contrary. He knew that if he stated the 
facts the clergy would condemn his book. They 
needed the influence of Lincoln's great name to 
support their crumbling creed, and would have it at 
any sacrifice, particularly when its possession re- 
quired no greater sacrifice than truth. Holland was 
equal to the emergency. When one of Lincoln's 
friends in Springfield suggested that the less said 
about his religious views the better, he promptly 

replied : "Oh, never mind ; I'll fix that." And he 
did. With dramatic embellishments, he presented 


to the delight of the orthodox world the now famous, 


or rather infamous, Bateinan interview. 

The publication of this story produced a profound 
sensation among the personal friends of the dead 
President. It revealed to them the unpleasant fact, 
assuming Holland's account to be correct, either that 
Newton Bateman, who had hitherto borne the repu- 
tation of being a man of veracity, was an unscrupu- 
lous liar, or that Abraham Lincoln, whose reputation 
for honesty and candor, long anterior to I860, had 
become proverbial, was a consummate hypocrite ; 
and loath as they were to believe the former, they 
rejected with disdain the latter. 

Eeferring to this story, Lamon, in his " Life of 
Lincoln," says : 

" There is no dealing with Mr. Bateman except by 
a flat contradiction. Perhaps his memory was 
treacherous or his imagination led him astray, or, 
perad venture, he thought a fraud no harm if it 
gratified the strong desire of the public for proofs of 
Mr. Lincoln's orthodoxy " (Life of Lincoln, p. 501). 

While Bateman undoubtedly misrepresented Lin- 
coln in his account of their conversation for it is 
not denied that he had an interview with Lincoln 
it is quite probable that he did not to the extent 
represented by Holland. Bateman doubtless exag- 
gerated the affair, and Holland magnified Bate- 
man's report of it. In an article originally published 


in the Index, and subsequently quoted by Lamon, 
Lincoln's law partner, Mr. Herndon, says : 

" I doubt whether Mr. Bateman said in full what 
is recorded there. I doubt a great deal of it. I 
know the whole story is untrue untrue in sub- 
stance, untrue in fact and spirit. As soon as the 
[Holland's] ' Life of Lincoln ' was out, on reading 
that part here referred to, I instantly sought Mr. 
Bateman and found him in his office. I spoke to 
him politely and kindly, and he spoke to me in the 
same manner. I said substantially to him that Mr. 
Holland, in order to make Mr. Lincoln a technical 
Christian, made him a hypocrite ; and so his ' Life of 
Lincoln ' quite plainly says. I loved Mr. Lincoln, 
and was mortified, if not angry, to see him made a 
hypocrite. I cannot now detail what Mr. Bateman said, 
as it was a private conversation, and I am forbidden 
to make use of it in public. If some good gentleman 
can only get the seal of secrecy removed I can show 
what was said and done. On my word, the world 
may take it for granted that Holland is wrong that 
he does not state Mr. Lincoln's views correctly" 
(Lamon's Life of Lincoln, p. 496). 

In a lecture on " Lincoln's Eeligion," delivered in 
Springfield in 1874, alluding to the same subject, 
Mr. Herndon says : 

" My notes of our conversation bear date Decem- 
ber 3, 12, and 28, 1865. Our conversations were 


private, I suppose. However, I can say this much : 
that Mr. Bateman expressly told me Mr. Lin- 
coln was, in the conversation related in Hoi- 

land, talking politics and not religion, nor Christian- 
ity, nor morals, as such. I have persistently dogged 
Mr. Bateman for the privilege of publishing my 
notes, or to give me a letter explaining what Mr. 
Lincoln did say, so that I might make known the 
facts of the case. Mr. Bateman has as stoutly < 

Dr. Bateman finally permitted Mr. Herndon to 
make public a letter, marked " confidential," which 
he had written Mr. Herndon in 1867. In this letter 
Bateman says : 

" He [Lincoln] was applying the principles of 
moral and religious truth to the duties of the hour, 
the condition of the country, and the conduct of 
public men ministers of the gospel. I had no 
thought of orthodoxy or heterodoxy, Unitarianism, 
Trinitarianism, or any other ism, during the whole 
conversation, and I don't suppose or believe he had." 

Had Lincoln made the confession he is reported 
to have made, this would have suggested to Mr. 
Bateman the idea of his admitted orthodoxy as well 
as his reputed heterodoxy. Had Lincoln declared 
that " Christ is God," this would have suggested to 
him the idea of Trinitarianism. It will be seen, even 
from this letter, that instead of talking theology and 



professing a belief in Christianity, he was talking 
politics and denouncing the intolerance and bigotry 
of Christian ministers. 

Dr. Bateman privately asserts that he was not cor- 
rectly reported, that Holland's version of the inter- 
view "is colored." It is to be regretted that he 
had not the courage to state this fact to the public, 
and his plea, " My aversion to publicity in such 
matters is intense," is a poor apology for refusing to 
do so. 

As previously intimated, this story is probably 
founded on fact and has an element of truth in it. 
Lincoln and Bateman had a political interview, and 
the object of this interview was the examination and 
discussion of the list of Springfield voters. This list 
revealed the fact that twenty out of twenty-three 
clergymen and a very large majority of the church- 
members of Springfield were opposed to Lincoln. 
The significance of this fact Dr. Holland and Dr. 
Bateman have apparently overlooked. Why was the 
church opposed to him ? It must have been either 
because it was opposed to the Republican party, or 
because he was personally objectionable to the mem- 
bers of that party. His political principles were the 
principles of his party, his ability was conceded, and 
his moral character was above reproach. It is fair 
to assume that the political sentiment of the Chris- 
tians of Springfield was substantially the political 


sentiment of Northern Christians generally. Now, 
was the Northern Church overwhelmingly in favor 
of the extension of slavery ? Were eighty-seven per 
cent, of Northern Christians Democrats ? Or did the 
Christians of Springfield oppose Lincoln because he 
was an Infidel? 

Holland makes Bateman affirm that Lincoln " drew 
from his bosom a pocket New Testament." It is 
generally believed by Lincoln's friends that he did 
not have a New Testament, that the only book used 
in the interview was the book containing the list of 
Springfield voters. One of them says : " The idea 
that Mr. Lincoln carried the New Testament or 
Bible in his bosom or boots, to draw on his opponents 
in debate, is ridiculous." It is possible, however, 
that there was a New Testament in the room, and 
that Lincoln used it to enforce an argument. Indeed, 
there is internal evidence in the story, aside from the 
declaration of Bateman, that such was the case. The 
central idea in his political creed the keynote of 
his campaigns, both in 1858 and in 1860 was con- 
tained in that memorable passage, " * A house divided 
against itself cannot stand.' This government can 
not endure permanently half slave and half free." 
The figure quoted was a familiar and powerful one, 
and Lincoln recognized its force in dealing with the 
masses. It was taken from the New Testament, and 
from the words of Christ himself. That he should 


use it against those Christians who were acting con- 
trary to this well-known truth, is not strange. Im- 
mediately after the declaration, " Christ is God," he 
is reported as saying : " I have told them that a house 
divided against itself cannot stand, and Christ and 
reason say the same." This furnishes a solution to 
the whole story. This shows what he was doing 
with a New Testament. In connection with this, 
nothing is more natural than that he should exclaim : 
" Christ teaches it, and Christ is [their] God ! " That 
he was terribly in earnest, that he was deeply agi- 
tated and pained to learn that his Christian neigh- 
bors were opposed to him, is not improbable. Thus 
the incidents of a simple political interview that 
were natural and reasonable have been perverted to 
make it appear that he was a Christian. A mere 
reference to the New Testament and Christ have 
been twisted into an acknowledgment of their divin- 
ity. Bateman himself admits that Lincoln said : "I 
am not a Christian." Why not accept his statement, 
then ? Why then distort his words and in the face 
of this positive declaration attempt to prove that he 
was a Christian ? Bateman reports him as modify- 
ing the statement by adding : " God knows I would 
be one." Yes, " God knows I would be one were I 
convinced that Christianity is true, but not convinced 
of its truth, I am an unbeliever." 
Lincoln is also reported to have said that in the 


light of the New Testament " human bondage can 
not live a moment." But he did not utter these 
words. He did not utter them because they are un- 
true, and none knew this better than himself. He 
knew that in the light of this book human bondage 
had lived for nearly two thousand years ; he knew 
that this book was one of the great bulwarks of hu- 
man slavery ; he knew that there was not to be found 
between its lids a single text condemning slavery, 
while there were to be found a score of texts sus- 
taining it ; he knew that that infamous law, the 
Fugitive Slave law, received its warrant from this 
book that Paul, in the light of its earliest teach- 
ings, had returned a fugitive slave to his master. 

In this story Lincoln is charged with the grossest 
hypocrisy. He is declared to have professed a be- 
lief in Christ and Christianity, and when Bateman 
observed that his friends were ignorant of this, he is 
made to reply : " I know they are. I am obliged to 
appear different to them." Now, to use Lincoln's 
own words, " A sane person can no more act with- 
out a motive than can there be an effect without a 
cause," and what possible motive could he have had 
for such conduct? Supposing that he was base 
enough to be a hypocrite, what could induce him to 
lead the world to suppose he was an Infidel if he 
were not? In the eyes of the more ignorant and 
bigoted class of Christians, Infidelity is a more 


heinous crime than murder, and an Infidel is a 
creature scarcely to be tolerated, much less to be 
intrusted with a public office. Freethinkers gen- 
erally detest the dogmas of Christianity as 
thoroughly as Christians possibly can the principles 
of Freethought. But free thought and free speech 
are the leading tenets of their creed. They recog- 
nize the fact that we are all the children of circum- 
stances, that our belief is determined by our en- 
vironments, and while they reject Christianity, they 
have nothing but charity for those who consci- 
entiously profess it. They may repudiate a bigot, 
but will not oppose a man merely because he is a 
Christian. If Lincoln were an Infidel, discretion 
might urge a concealment of his views ; if he were a 
Christian, policy would prompt him to give it as 
wide a publicity as possible, especially when he 
rested under the imputation of being a disbeliever. 
Had he changed his belief and become a convert to 
Christianity, a knowledge of the fact would not have 
lost him the support of his friends, even though 
some of them were Freethinkers ; while it would 
have secured for him a more cordial support from 
the Republican side of the church, many of whom 
had been alienated on account of his supposed anti- 
Christian sentiments. It is hard to believe that 
Lincoln was a hypocrite ; but this story, if true, 
makes him not only a hypocrite but a fool. If he 


believed in Christianity there can be but one reason 
advanced for his desiring to keep it a secret he was 
ashamed of it. 

Holland, in trying to explain away the inconsist- 
encies of this fabrication, repeatedly blunders. In 
one of his attempts he makes use of the following 
remarkable language : 

" It was one of the peculiarities of Mr. Lincoln to 
hide these religious experiences from the eyes of 
the world. . . . They [his friends] did not re- 
gard him as a religious man. They had never seen 
anything but the active lawyer, the keen politician, 
the jovial, fun-loving companion in Mr. Lincoln. 
All this department of his life he had kept carefully 
hidden from them. Why he should say that he was 
obliged to appear differently to others does not ap- 
pear ; but the fact is a matter of history that he 
never exposed his own religious life to those who 
had no sympathy with it. It is doubtful whether 
the clergymen of Springfield knew anything of these 
experiences" (Life of Lincoln, pp. 239, 240). 

What ! had the clergymen of Springfield no sym- 
pathy with a religious life ? A person can utter one 
falsehood with some degree of plausibility ; but 
when he attempts to verify it by uttering another, he 
usually trips and falls. The above passage is mere 
hypocritical cant. It carries with it not only its own 
refutation, but that of the rest of Holland's testi- 


mony also. It is the language of the man who is 
conscious of having stated a falsehood ; conscious 
that there are others who believe it to be a false- 
hood. He knew that the personal friends of Lin- 
coln all understood him to be a disbeliever. He 
knew that the church-members of Springfield all 
entertained the same opinion. He virtually says to 
these people : " It is true that Lincoln professed to 
be an Infidel, but he was not ; he was a Christian. 
The fact has been kept a profound secret. Bateman 
and I have been the sole custodians of this secret, 
and we now give it to the world." 

A Christian writer, apologizing for the absurd and 
contradictory statements of Holland and Bateman, 
says, " They aimed at the truth." I do not believe 
it. It is clearly evident that they aimed at a plau- 
sible lie. But in either case they made a bad shot. 

In his "Life of Lincoln," Holland endeavors to 
convey the impression that Lincoln was always a 
devout Christian. He declares that even during the 
years of his early manhood at New Salem, " he was 
a religious man ;" that " he had a deep religious 
life." When Herndon and Lamon exposed his 
shameful misrepresentations he retreated from his 
first position, and in Scribmr's Monthly wrote as fol- 
lows : 

" What Abraham Lincoln was when he lived at 
New Salem and wrote an anti-Christian tract (which 


the friend to whom he showed it somewhat violently 
but most judiciously put in the fire) is one thing, 
and it may be necessary for an impartial historian 
to record it. What he was when he died at Wash- 
ington with those most Christian words of the Second 
Inaugural upon his lips, and that most Christian 
record of five years of patient tenderness and charity 
behind him, is quite another thing." 

He admits that Lincoln was an Intidel in Illinois, 
but would have us believe that he was a Christian 
in Washington. He refers to " those most Christian 
words of the Second Inaugural," and "that most 
Christian record of five years of patient tenderness 
and charity." In the Second Inaugural there is not 
a word affirming a belief in Christianity not a word 
in reference to Christianity. He mentions God, and 
quotes from the Bible, but does not intimate that the 
Bible is God's word. That Christians have a mo- 
nopoly of " patient tenderness and charity," can 
hardly be accepted. The history of the church does 
not confirm this assumption. Many Christians have 
possessed these virtues. So have the votaries of 
other religions. These attributes belong to good 
men everywhere, but they are the distinguishing 
features of no particular creed. 

Smarting under his exposure, with that whining 
cant so peculiar to the vanquished religionist, Hoi- 


land finally sent forth this parting wail and virtually 
abandoned the whole case : 

" The question is, not whether Abraham Lincoln was 
a subscriber to the creeds of orthodoxy, but whether 

*/ ' 

he was a believing that is to say, a truthful Chris- 
tian man ; not whether he was accustomed to call 
Jesus Christ ' Lord, Lord,' but whether he was used 
to do those things which Jesus Christ exemplified 
and enforced. He was accustomed, as we know well 
enough, to speak of an Almighty Father, of whom 
justice and mercy and sympathy with weak and suf- 
fering humanity were characteristic attributes. Who 
was it that revealed to man a God like this? Who 
was it that once ' showed us the Father and it suf- 
ficed us ? ' Whoever it was that made this revela- 
tion to mankind it was of him that this man, even 
though he knew it not, had learned, and it was in 
his spirit that he acted" (Scribner's Monthly). 

The concluding words of Dr. Holland's testimony, 
as quoted from his " Life of Lincoln," are as follows : 

" Moderate, frank, truthful, gentle, forgiving, lov- 
ing, just, Mr. Lincoln will always be remembered as 
eminently a Christian President ; and the almost 
immeasurably great results which he had the privi- 
lege of achieving were due to the fact that he was a 
Christian President." 

This prediction and this assumption are false. 1 
change one word and make them grandly true. 



"Moderate, frank, truthful, gentle, forgiving, 
loving, just, Mr. Lincoln will always be remembered 
as eminently a Liberal President ; and the almost 
immeasurably great results which he had the privi- 
lege of achieving were due to the fact that he was a 
Liberal President. 





Reed Smith Edwards Lewis B r ooks Statements of Edwards. 
Smith, and Brooks Compared Simderland Miner Gurley Failure of 
Reed to Establish his Claims. 

OF the twenty Christian witnesses whose testimony 
is given in Chapter I., ten admit that, during a part 
of his life, Lincoln was an unbeliever, or Infidel. Of 
the remaining ten, not one denies the fact. It is 
conceded, then, that he was once an Infidel. Now, 
it is a rule of law that when a certain state or condi- 
tion of things is once proven to exist, that state or 
condition is presumed to continue to exist until the 
contrary is proven. If Lincoln was, at one time, an 
Infidel, it is fair to assume that he remained an In- 
fidel, unless it can be shown that he changed his be- 
lief and became a Christian. This Dr. Heed at- 
tempts to do. 

His lecture, under the caption of " The Later Life 
and Religious Sentiments of Abraham Lincoln," will 
be found in Scribner's Monthly for July, 1873. The 
evidence presented by Lamon had placed Dr. Hoi- 


land in a most unenviable light. As Reed's lecture 
reaffirmed the claim made by Holland, and brought 
forward fresh evidence to substantiate the claim, it 
was naturally regarded by many Christians as a vin- 
dication of Holland's position, especially by those 
who had not read Lamon's work. Holland was par- 
ticularly pleased at its opportune appearance, and 
cheerfully gave it a place in his magazine. 

Reed's individual testimony proves nothing. He 
does not profess to know, from personal knowledge, 
what Lincoln's religious views were. The object of 
his lecture was to invalidate, if possible, the testi- 
mony of those who affirmed that he died an Infidel, 
and to present, in addition to what had already been 
presented by Holland, the testimony of those who 
affirmed that during the last years of his life he wag 
a Christian. To answer his witnesses is to answer 
his lecture. 

The Rev. Dr. Smith affirms that he converted Lin- 
coln to a belief in " the divine authority and inspira- 
tion of tJie Scriptures." It was imperative that he 
should, for, said he, " It was my honor to place be- 
fore Mr. Lincoln arguments designed to prove the 
divine authority and inspiration of the Scriptures." 
As a matter of course, "the result was the announce- 
ment by himself that the arguments in favor of the 
divine authority and inspiration of the Scriptures 
were unanswerable." Consequently, " Mr^ Lincoln 


did avow his belief in the divine authority and iiispira- 
tion of the Scriptures." 

Impressed with a deep sense of the gravity and 
importance of his work, he declares that " It is a 
matter of the last importance not only to the present 
but to all future generations of the great Republic, 
and to all advocates of civil and religious liberty 
throughout the world that this avowal on his part, 
. . . should be made known to the public," 
coupled with the more important fact, of course, 
that it was Dr. Smith who did it. It is to be re- 
gretted that his waiting until after Lincoln's death 
to announce it, prevented the convert's Christian 
friends from tendering their congratulations and ex- 
tending the hand of fellowship. It is possible that 
he counseled Dr. Smith not to divulge the secret for 
fear it might injure his political prospects. Certain 
it is, his neighbors were ignorant of this remarkable 
change. When Holland canvassed Springfield, in 
1865, eager to obtain a morsel of evidence upon 
which to base his claim that Lincoln was a Christian, 
he failed to catch even the faintest whisper regard- 
ing this alleged conversion. 

When Dr. Smith's letter was made public, the 
Christians of Springfield generally smiled, but said 
nothing, while unbelievers laughed outright and 
pronounced it the acme of absurdity. Dr. Reed read 
it to his audience and tried to look serious. 


Concerning this claim, Lincoln's biographer, Colo- 
nel Lamon, says : 

" The abilities of this gentleman to discuss such a 
topic to the edification of a man like Mr. Lincoln 
seem to have been rather slender ; but the chance of 
converting so distinguished a person inspired him 
with a zeal which he might not have felt for the 
salvation of an obscurer soul. Mr. Lincoln listened 
to his exhortations in silence, apparently respectful, 
and occasionally sat out his sermons in church with 
as much patience as other people. Finding these 
oral appeals unavailing, Mr. Smith composed a 
heavy tract out of his own head to suit the particular 
case. 'The preparation of that work/ says he, 
' cost me long and arduous labor ;' but it does not 
appear to have been read. Mr. Lincoln took the 
' work ' to his office, laid it down without writing his 
name on it, and never took it up again to the knowl- 
edge of a man who inhabited the office with him, 
and who saw it lying on the same spot every day for 
months. Subsequently Mr. Smith drew from Mr. 
Lincoln an acknowledgment that his argument was 
unanswerable not a very high compliment under 
the circumstances " (Life of Lincoln, p. 498). 

The gentleman whom Colonel Lamon refers to as 
testifying that Lincoln did not read Dr. Smith's book 
was Lincoln's partner, Mr. Herndon. In his lecture . 
pn " Lincoln's Religion," Mr. Herndon says : 


" Mr. Lincoln received a book from Dr. Smith on 
Infidelity. He placed it on our law table. He 
never opened ib never read it to my knowledge." 

If Dr. Smith had converted Lincoln, as claimed, 
is it not reasonable to suppose that he would have 
joined Dr. Smith's church? Had he been converted 
would the clergymen of Springfield have denounced 
him as an Infidel in 1860? Again, if Dr. Smith's 
book was so effective as to convert from Infidelity to 
Christianity as great a mind as Lincoln, why have 
we not heard more of it ? Why has it not been used 

to convert other Infidels ? Was its vitality as an 
evangelizer exhausted in converting Lincoln? 

Mr. Beed was a trifle more successful than Dr. 
Holland in obtaining witnesses ; for while Holland 
was able to secure but one witness in Illinois, Beed 
was able to summon two Ninian Edwards and 
Thomas Lewis. 

The testimony of Mr. Edwards, providing that he 
was the author of the letter accredited to him, can 
only be accounted for on the following supposition. 
Being a believer in Christianity himself, he consid- 
ered Lincoln's Infidelity a grave defect in his char- 
acter, and was vexed to see that t}ris controversy had 
given it such wide publicity. To assist in removing 
this stain, as he regarded it. from his kinsman's 
.name, he allowed to be published over his signature 
a statement which, unless his memory was very 


treacherous, he must have known was untrue. 

It may be that Lincoln did change his views in 
regard to some historical or doctrinal point con- 
nected with Christianity, and informed Mr. Edwards 
and other friends at the time of the fact. He might 
have changed his opinions on a hundred theological 
questions without having in the least changed his 
views in relation to the main or fundamental 
doctrines of Christianity. An admission concern- 
ing some trivial question connected with Christian- 
ity has been tortured to convey the idea that he 
accepted the whole system. 

A prominent and respected citizen of Springfield, 
a gentleman whose name has, as yet, not been men- 
tioned in connection with this controversy, had a 
conversation with Mr. Edwards relative to this sub- 
ject, soon after Reed's lecture was published, and, 
as the result of that conversation, he writes as fol- 
lows : " Mr. Edwards was not as good a witness on 
oral examination as he was in print." 

The letter of Mr. Edwards is dated Dec. 24, 1872. 
On Jan. 6, 1873, the letter of Thomas Lewis was 
written. After two weeks of arduous labor, Reed, 
it seems, succeeded in finding one witness in Spring- 
field who was prepared to corroborate the testimony 
of Edwards Thomas Lewis. 

In a lecture on Lincoln which appeared in the 



State Register, of Springfield, Mr. Herudon disposed 
of this witness as follows : 

" Mr. Lewis's veracity and integrity in this com- 
munity need no comment I Lave heard good men 
say they would not believe his word under any cir- 
cumstances, especially if he were interested. I hate 
to state this of Tom, but if he will obtrude himself 
in this discussion, I cannot help but say a word in 
self-defense. Mr. Lincoln detested this man, I know. 
The idea that Mr. Lincoln would go to Tom Lewis 
and reveal to him his religious convictions, is to me, 
and to all who know Mr. Lincoln and Tom Lewis, too 

The introduction of this Lewis as a witness dem- 
onstrates the paucity of evidence to be obtained on 
this side of the question among Lincoln's neighbors. 
Reed, living in a city of twenty thousand inhabitants, 
many of them the personal friends of Abraham Lin- 
coln, after a vigorous search for evidence, is able 
only to present this pitiable apology. 

I have reason to believe that the letters of Ed- 
wards and Lewis were drafted, not by the persons 
whose signatures they bear, but by the Rev. J. A. 

We come next to the testimony of Noah Brooks. 
Mr. Edwards, supported by Mr. Lewis, states that 
Lincoln was converted soon after Dr. Smith located 
at Springfield, and about the time of his son Eddie's 


death. Dr. Smith came to Springfield ill 1848, and 
Eddie died toward the close of the same year. Dr. 
Smith, in his letter, does not state when Lincoln's 
conversion took place, but it is understood from 
other sources that he claimed that it occurred about 
the year 1858. Mr. Brooks, in his letter to Dr. Keed, 
says : " Speaking to rne of the change which had 
come upon him, he said, while he could not fix any 
definite time, yet it was after he came here [Washing- 
ton], and I am very positive that in his own mind he 
identified it with about the time of Willie's death." 

Willie's death occurred in February, 1862, nearly 
fourteen years after the death of Eddie, and four 
years after Smith claimed to have converted Lincoln. 
Thus it will be seen that these witnesses nullify each 
other. The testimony of each is contradicted and 
refuted by the testimony of the other two. Mr. 
Edwards says that Lincoln was converted in 1848. 
This is contradicted by the testimony of both Smith 
and Brooks. According to Dr. Smith his conversion 
happened about 1858. This is contradicted by the 
testimony of both Edwards and Brooks. Mr. Brooks 
is quite positive that it took place about the time of 
Willie's death, in 1862. This, in turn, is contra- 
dicted by the testimony of both Edwards and Smith. 
If Mr. Edwards is right, both Dr. Smith and Mr. Brooks 
are wrong. If Dr. Smith is correct, both Mr. Ed- 
wards and Mr. Brooks are incorrect. If Mr. Brooks 


has stated the truth both Mr. Edwards and Dr. 
Smith have stated falsehoods. 

The testimony of these witnesses does not 
strengthen Reed's case, but weakens it. The testi- 
mony of two of them is self-evidently false, and this 
is a sufficient reason for doubting the truthfulness 
of the third. Had the evidence of neither Edwards 
nor Smith been invalidated by the evidence of the 
others, the fact that Lincoln is so generally conceded 
to have been an unbeliever up to the time that he 
became President, would render it unworthy of con- 
sideration. The testimony of Brooks alone demands 
notice. Did Lincoln change his belief after he left 
Springfield and went to Washington ? The evidence 
upon this point is decisive. 

The man who stood nearest to President Lincoln 
at Washington nearer than any clergyman or news- 
paper correspondent was his private secretary, 
Col. John G. Nicolay. In a letter dated May 27, 
1865, Colonel Nicolay says : 

"Mr. Lincoln did not, to my knowledge, in any 
way change his religious ideas, opinions, or beliefs 
from the time he left Springfield to the day of his 

In a letter to his old friend, Judge Wakefield, 
written after Willie's death, he declared that his 
earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian 
scheme of salvation, and the human origin of the 


Scriptures, had become clearer and stronger with 
advancing years, and he did not think he should 
ever change them. 

After his assassination Mrs. Lincoln said : " Mr. 
Lincoln had no hope and no faith in the usual ac- 
ceptance of these words." His lifelong friend and 
executor, Judge David Davis, affirmed the same : 
"He had no faith in the Christian sense of the 
term." His biographer, Colonel Lamon, intimately 
acquainted with him in Illinois, and with him during 
all the years that he lived in Washington, says : 
"Never in all that time did he let fall from his lips 
or his pen an expression which remotely implied 
the slightest faith in Jesus as the son of God and 
the Savior of men." 

Why do the statements of these witnesses, Smith, 
Edwards, and Brooks, not agree respecting the date 
of Lincoln's conversion? When their testimony 
was given, Smith was in Scotland, Edwards was in 
Illinois, and Brooks was in New York. 

If he was converted, why was the fact not revealed 
before his death ? Why did these men wait until 
he died to make these statements to the world? 

I Simply because the dead can make no reply. 
Had Lincoln been converted, the news would have 
been wafted on the wings of lightning from one end 
of the continent to the other. It would have been 
published in every newspaper ; it would have been 


proclaimed from every pulpit ; it would have been a 
topic of conversation at every fireside. When Henry 
Wilson, a man of far less note than Lincoln, was con- 

* > 

verted to Christianity, the fact was heralded all over 
the land. 

Lincoln's home was twice visited by death during 
his lifetime, and both occasions have been seized 
upon to assert that he experienced a change of heart. 
The death of a beloved child is no common sorrow, 
and the womanly tenderness of Lincoln's heart made 
it doubly poignant to him. " When death entered 
his household," says his friend, George W. Julian, 
" his sorrow was so consuming that it could only be 
measured by the singular depth and intensity of his 
love." That Mr. Edwards and Mr. Brooks did each 
observe a change in the demeanor of the grief- 
stricken father, following the sad events referred to, 
is not improbable. But a manifestation of sorrow is 
no proof of a theological change. 

Three of Reed's witnesses remain three clergy- 
men Dr. Sunderland, Dr. Miner, and Dr. Gurley. 
Dr. Sunderland is a man of distinction. He has had 
the honor of praying for the United States Senate 
and officiating at the marriage of a President. Yet, 
distinction is not always the badge of honesty. 
W. H. Burr, a literary gentleman, of Washington, 
writing to a Boston paper in 1880, paid the following 
tribute to Dr. Sunderland's veracity : " He can prob- 


ably put more falsehood and calumny in a page of 
foolscap than any priest out of prison." 

Mr. Sunderland called upon the President in 1862. 
In his letter to Heed he says : " For one half hour 
[he] poured forth a volume of the deepest Christian 
philosophy I ever heard." Notwithstanding ten 
years had elapsed since that visit, he proceeded to 
give from memory a verbatim report of Lincoln's 
remarks. The report is too long to reproduce in 
this work, and even if correct, would add but little 
to the weight of Christian evidence already pre- 
sented. It is merely an ethical discourse, and aside 
from a few indirect admissions in favor of Christian- 
ity for which Sunderland doubtless drew upon his 
imagination, there is nothing that Paine or any other 
Deist might not with propriety have uttered. Those 
who wish to peruse Mr. Suuderland's letter will find 
it in Scribner's Monthly for July, 1873. 

Dr. Miner, like Dr. Sunderland, had a quiet chat 
with the President, and what was said he assures us 
is too deeply engraved on his memory ever to be 
effaced. But, unlike Dr. Sunderland, he does not 
favor us with a transcript of it. He does not repeat 
a word that was uttered. He states, however, that, 
* If Mr. Lincoln was not really an experimental 
Christian, he was acting like one." But how does an 
experimental Christian act ? If he behaves himself, 
if he is intelligent and honest, his actions are not 


materially different from those of a good Freethinker. 
Dr. Miner did not believe that Lincoln was an ex- 
perimental Christian, and in his article there is an 
implied admission that he knew nothing about his 

He says that, " Like the immortal Washington, he 
believed in the efficacy of prayer." The comparison 
is happily drawn. Lincoln probably did believe as 
much in the efficacy of prayer as Washington ; that 
is to say, he did not believe in it at all, in the evan- 
gelical sense. There is no evidence that Washing- 
ton believed in prayer, no proof that he ever ut- 
tered a prayer. That story about his praying at 
Valley Forge is as truly a myth as the story about 
the hatchet. The Rev. E. D. Neill, an eminent 
Episcopal minister, and a relative of the person who 
is reported to have seen Washington engaged in 
prayer, pronounces it a fiction. 

Dr. Gurley is represented as saying : " I con- 
sidered him sound not only on the truth of the 
Christian religion, but on all its fundamental doc- 
trines and teachings." This, remember, is from a 
Calvinistic standpoint. Lincoln, then, not only ac- 
cepted Christianity, but its most ultra variety Cal- 
vinism. He believed in original sin, predestination 
(including infant damnation), particular redemption, 
irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. 
Because he sometimes went with his wife to the 


Presbyterian church, of which she was an adherent, 
the priests of this denomination have the contempt- 
ible assurance to assert that he was a rigid Calvin- 

ist ! 

When he died Dr. Gurley, being Mrs. Lincoln's 
pastor, delivered the funeral oration in Washington. 
In that oration Dr. Gurley did not affirm that Lin- 
coln was a Christian, a thing he would not have 
failed to do had it been true. Long after Lincoln's 
death, Dr. Gurley, if Eeed has correctly reported 
him, makes a statement that he had not the courage 
to make over his dead body. 

A reputable Christian gentleman, of Springfield, 
who desires to have his name withheld from the 
public, declares that Dr. Gurley knew and admitted 
that Lincoln was a disbeliever in Christianity. 

It is quite probable that Gurley did not state in 
full what Eeed reports him to have stated. A man 
who can take up his pen and at one sitting indite a 
score Of falsehoods and misrepresentations, as Eeed, 
on a subsequent occasion, is shown to have done, 
can not be relied upon for accuracy as a reporter. 

The reader has doubtless not failed to notice the 
introduction of a claim by Eeed to the effect that 
Lincoln at the time of his assassination was intend- 
ing to unite with the church. That the idea was 
suggested by Eeed is shown by the fact that no less 
than three of these witnesses, including Eeed, allude 


to it. Reed says : " While it is to be regretted that 
Mr. Lincoln was not spared to indicate his religious 
sentiments by a profession of his faith in accordance 
with the institutions of the Christian religion, yet it 
is very clear that he had this step in view." Dr. 
Gurley is made to say : " It was his intention soon 
to make a profession of religion." Mr. Brooks says : 
" I absorbed [the porosity of some of these witnesses 
is remarkable] the firm conviction that Mr. Lincoln 
. . . was seriously considering the step which 
would formally connect him with the visible church 
on earth." 

This dernier resort of an argument has been re- 
peated respecting nearly every notable person who 
has diecf outside of the church. Soon after the pub- 
lication of Reed's lecture, the New York World con- 
tained the following pertinent answer to this stale 
fabrication : 

" It is admitted by Mr. Reed and everybody else 
that Mr. Lincoln was a working Infidel up to a very 
late period of his life, that he wrote a book and 
labored earnestly to make proselytes to his own 
views, that he never publicly recanted, and that he 
never joined the church. Upon those who, in the 
face of these tremendous facts, allege that he was 
nevertheless a Christian lies the burden of proof. 
Let them produce it or forever hold their peace. In 
the mean time it is a sad and puerile subterfuge to 


argue that he would have been a Christian if he had 
lived long enough, and to lament that he was not 
* spared ' for that purpose. He had been spared 
fifty-six years and surrounded by every circumstance 
that might soften his heart and every influence that 
might elevate his faith. If he was at that late, that 
fatal hour standing thus gloomily without the pale, 
what reason have we to suppose that he intended ever 
to enter?" 

Reed speaks of " the poverty of his early religious 
instruction," apparently forgetting that he was raised 
by Christian parents. His father was a church- 
member, his mother was a church-member, and his 
stepmother was a church-member. Reed states, 
also, that the books he read were all of an anti- 
religious character. Holland, on the contrary, de- 
clares that better books than those he read could 
not have been chosen from the richest library. The 
fact is, Abraham Lincoln did not become an Infidel 
to Christianity from a lack of knowledge respecting 
its claims. He thoroughly examined its claims, and 
rejected them because he found them untenable. 

One important feature of this subject Reed has 
either inadvertently omitted or purposely ignored, 
and that is in regard to the validity of the Bateman 
story. As the result of previous controversy this 
evidence had been rendered valueless. Lincoln's 
partner had declared it to be false, had asserted that 


Mr. Bateman in private conversations acknowledged 
it to be in part untrue, and announced his readiness 
to substantiate his assertions if Mr. Bateman could 
be prevailed upon to permit the publication of his 
notes of these conversations taken at the time. If 
Mr. Herndon's affirmations were true, it destroyed 
the testimony of Holland and Bateman ; if untrue, 
it challenged Mr. Bateman to reaffirm the state- 
ments recorded bv Holland, and allow the seal of 


privacy to be removed from his conversations on the 
subject. Why did Mr. Reed not rehabilitate this 
damaged evidence? Did he forget it? No, it is 
plainly evident that he did not dare to attempt it. 

In reviewing this Calvinistic coterie of witnesses 
(they are all Calvinists, and nearly all Presbyterians), 
one is struck with the formidable display of theo- 
logical appendages. What an imposing array of 
D.D.'s ! Rev. J. A. Reed, D.D.! Rev. James Smith, 
D.D.! Rev. Byron Sunderland, D.D.! Rev. Mr. 
Miner, D.D.! Rev. Mr. Gurley, D.D.! It was a 
desperate case divinity was sick and needed doc- 
toring. The doctors of divinity were accordingly 
called in, and prescribed " The Later Life and Re- 
ligious Sentiments of Abraham Lincoln," after which 
it was supposed that divinity would recover. He 
may be better, but it is painfully apparent that some 
of these D.D.'s are themselves sadly in need of a 





Arnold's Life of Lincoln " Claims Concerning Lincoln's Religious 
Belief Address to Negroes of B Utirnore Carpenter Hawley Willet* 
Pious Nurse Western Christian Advocate Illinois Clergyman 
Barrows Vinton Simpson. 

WITH the Christian masses whose minds have be- 
come warped by the bigoted teachings of their cler- 
ical leaders, nothing affects the reputation of a man 
so much as his religious belief. Public men who are 
disbelievers are fully cognizant of this, and generally 
refrain from expressing sentiments that would tend 
to alienate those upon whom the retention of their 
positions depends. Biographers understand this, 
too, and are likewise aware that a dead Infidel is as 
cordially hated as a live one. They know that a 
cold reception awaits their works unless they are 
able to clothe the characters of their subjects in the 
robes of popular superstition. Mr. Arnold realized 
this when he wrote his "Life of Lincoln." He had 
been most forcibly reminded of the fact by the fate 
of two biographies of his own subject which had 


already appeared Holland's and Lamon's. Hol- 
land's work by catering to popular prejudice, regard- 
less of truth, had been financially a success; Lamon's 
work by adhering to truth, regardless of popular 
prejudice, had been financially a failure. 

Determined to profit by these examples, and in- 
timidated by the threats and entreaties of those who 
had resolved to secure for Christianity the influence 
of the Great Emancipator's name, Arnold dare not 
give the facts regarding Lincoln's religious belief. 
Nor is it to be presumed that he desired to. He had 
previously appeared as a special pleader for the pop- 
ular faith. 

He affirms that " No more reverent Christian than 
Lincoln ever sat in the Executive chair, not except- 
ing Washington." The fact is, when Arnold wrote 
his biography of Lincoln, no very reverent Christian 
ever had occupied the Executive chair. Previous to 
the installation of Gen. B. H. Harrison no real 
orthodox Christian communicant had held the office 
of President. 

If Mr. Arnold knew no more about Lincoln's 
religion than he appears to have known about Wash- 
ington's, a more charitable reason than those sug- 
gested might be assigned for his statements concern- 
ing the former. Washington, like Lincoln, has been 
claimed by the church ; yet, Washington, like Lin- 
coln, was a Deist. This is admitted even bv the 
' ~ . 


leading churchmen of his day. Three of the most 
eminent divines of his age, and the three to whom he 
was most intimately related in a social way, were 
Bishop White, Eev. Dr. Abercrombie, and Kev. Dr. 
Ashbel Green. Bishop White declares that Wash- 
ington was not a communicant, as claimed by some, 
and intimates that he was a disbeliever. The Eev. 
Dr. Abercrombie, whose church he attended while 
he was President, said : " Washington was a 
Deist.*' The Kev. Dr. Ashbel Green, chaplain to 
Congress during his administration, said : " Like 
nearly all the founders of the Republic, he was not 
a Christian, but a Deist." 

Arnold presents the following as the basis of Lin- 
coln's religion, and proofs of his Christianity : "(1) 
Belief in the existence of God, (2) in the immortality 
of the soul, (3) in the Bible as the revelation of God 
to man, (4) in the efficacy and duty of prayer, (5) in 
reverence toward the Almighty, and (6) in love and 
charity to man." 

1. * Belief in the existence of God." This does 
not prove a belief in Christianity. The Jew believes 
in the existence of God ; the Mohammedan believes 
in the existence of God ; the Deistic Infidel believes 
in the existence of God. 

2. " Belief in the immortality of the soul." That 
he believed in the immortality of the soul is a claim 
that cannot be clearly established ; and even if it 


could, would not confirm the assumption that he was 
a Christian. Deists, many of them, believe in the 
doctrine of immortality. Paine believed in immor- 
tality ; Voltaire believed in immortality. 

3. " Belief in the Bible as the revelation of God to 
man." This, if true, would be evidence of his Chris- 
tianity ; but, unfortunately for Mr. Arnold's claim, 
Lincoln did not entertain this belief. 

4. " Belief in the efficacy and duty of prayer." 
This, in the orthodox sense of these terms, is not 
true ; and if it were, would not furnish conclusive 
evidence that he was a Christian. Jews pray ; Mo- 
hammedans pray ; Buddhists pray ; some Deists 
pray. Franklin believed in the efficacy and duty of 
prayer, and Franklin was an Infidel. 

5. "Belief in reverence to the Almighty." This 
does not demonstrate a belief in Christianity, for all 
Deists believe in reverence to the Almighty. 

6. " Belief in love and charity to man." When it 
can be shown that only Christians believe in love 
and charity, then will it be time to affirm that Lin- 
coln was a Christian. 

Arnold confounds Christianity with Deism. In 
the following words he admits that Lincoln was 
simply a Deist : "Not orthodox, not a man of creeds, 
he was a man of simple trust in God." 

When the subject of Lincoln's belief was once 
mentioned to Mr. Arnold, he said : " Lincoln was a 


rational Christian because he believed in morality." 
With equal propriety one might say of an upright 
Christian, " He is a rational Freethinker because he 
believes in morality." 

" His reply to the Negroes of Baltimore," he says, 
" ought to silence forever those who charge him with 
unbelief." This alleged reply of Lincoln was as fol- 
lows : 

" In regard to the Great Book I have only to say 
that it is the best gift which God has given to man. 
All the good from the Savior of the world is com- 
municated to us through this book. But for this 
book we could not know right from wrong. All 
those things desirable to man are contained in it ' 
(Lincoln Memorial Album, p. 340). 

The writer of this was in Washington when the 
colored deputation from Baltimore presented the 
President with a $500 Bible. The papers mentioned 
the fact at the time, but no such speech as Lincoln 
is said to have made appeared in the reports. About 
two months later, this apocryphal version of his re- 
marks on the occasion referred to, made its appear- 

The first two sentences contained in this speech 
(the only part of it that Arnold has quoted), Lincoln, 
if a Christian, might have uttered. They are words 
that any intelligent Christian might, from his stand- 
point, with propriety affirm. We are familiar with 


these claims. We are also familiar with the claims 
embodied in the last two sentences. Thev are re- 


peatedly made. But they are made only by very 
ignorant persons, or by clerical hypocrites who try 
to impose upon the ignorance and credulity of their 
hearers. Had Lincoln been a Christian he would 
not have used these words, because he was too in- 
telligent to believe them, and too honest to pretend 
to believe them. 

Concerning this speech, Lincoln's partner, Mr. 
Herndon, thus vigorously, yet truthfully, remarks : 

"I am aware of the fraud committed on Mr. Lin- 
coln in reporting some insane remarks supposed 
to have been made by him, in 1864, on the presenta- 
tion of a Bible to him by the colored people of Balti- 
more. No sane man ever uttered such follv, and no 

./ ' 

sane man will ever believe it. In that speech Mr. 
Lincoln is made to say : * But for this book we could 
not know right from wrong.' Does any human being 
believe that Lincoln ever uttered this ? What did 
the whole race of man do to know right from wrong 
during the countless years that passed before this 
book was given to the world ? How did the strug- 
gling race of man build up its grand civilizations in 
the world before this book was given to mankind? 
What do the millions of people now living, who 
never heard of this book, do to know how to dis- 
tinguish right from wrong ? Was Lincoln a fool, an 


ass, a hypocrite, or a combination of them all ? or is 
this speech this supposed this fraudulent speech 
a lie ?" 

Arnold would have his readers believe that this 
speech is genuine. And yet it is plainly evident 
that he himself does not believe it. He mutilates it 
by omitting the more orthodox portion of it the 
very portion he would have retained had he believed 
it to be genuine. The first part would suffice to 
serve his purpose ; the remainder he knew was too 
incredible for belief and would stamp the whole as a 

Arnold says : " The veil between him and the 
supernatural was very thin." Yes, so thin that he 
easily saw through it and recognized the greater 
part of it to be a sham. 

" His faith in a Divine Providence began at his 
mother's knee, and ran through all the changes of 
his life." I do not desire to charge Mr. Arnold with 
plagiarism, but the foregoing recalls the following 
much admired passage to be found in Holland : 
" This unwavering faith in a Divine Providence 


began at his mother's knee, and ran like a thread of 
gold through all the inner experiences of his life " 
(Life of Lincoln, pp. 61, 62). 

There is much in Arnold's biography, aside from 
the above, to suggest that Holland's work formed 
the basis and model of his own. While more accu- 


rate in the main than Holland's "Life," Arnold's 
"Life" is in some respects equally unreliable, and 
less readable. 

Adverting to the many fraudulent stories that have 
been circulated concern-ing Lincoln, in an address 
delivered in London, Mr. Arnold said : " The news- 
papers in America have always been full of Lincoln 
stories and anecdotes, some true and many fabulous." 
Unfortunately for the cause of truth, Mr. Arnold has 
himself recorded some of these fabulous stories, not 
because he deemed them authentic, but because they 
agreed with his preconceived prejudices, or the 
prejudices of those whom he wished to please. 

Mr. Carpenter says : " I would scarcely have called 
Mr. Lincoln a religious man, and yet I believe him 
to have been a sincere Christian." 

In a letter, Mr. Herndon makes the following cor- 
rection in regard to his friend Carpenter's state- 
ment : 

" Mr. Carpenter has not expressed his own ideas 
correctly. To say that a man is a Christian and yet 
not a religious man is absurd. Religion is the generic 
term including all forms of religion ; Christianity is 
a specific term representing one form of religion. 
Carpenter means to say that Mr. Lincoln was a 
religious man but not a Christian, and this is the 

It is unfortunate that while in many cases we 


have several words to express the same idea, the 
same word in many cases is employed to express 
different ideas. Ideas thus become confused. If 
the terms morality, religion, and Christianity, were 
always used in their legitimate sense used to ex- 
press the ideas of which they were the original signs 
much trouble and ambiguity would be avoided. 
As it is, they are promiscuously used as interchange- 
able terms. Many use the word rdigion and even 
Christianity when they mean morality. Mr. Carpen- 
ter uses the word religious in its proper sense, and 
the word Christian to mean a moral man. The fol- 
lowing examples will serve to illustrate the various 
forms employed to express the thought now under 
consideration : 

" I would scarcely have called Mr. Lincoln a re- 
ligious man, and yet I believe him to have been a 
sincere Christian." Carpenter. 

" I would scarcely have called Mr. Lincoln a 
Christian, and yet I believe him to have been a truly 
religious man." Herndon. 

I would scarcely have called Mr. Lincoln a relig- 
ious man, and yet I believe him to have been a truly 
moral man. Author. 

We all desire to express substantially the same 
thought. I do not wish to dictate to Mr. Carpenter 
and Mr. Herndon what words they shall employ to 
convey an idea, but this explanation is essential to 


a proper understanding of the question in dispute 
and will help to reconcile much of the apparently 
conflicting testimony presented in this work. 

As Lincoln was in a certain sense a Deist, the re- 
ligious element was not entirely wanting in him, and 
hence the statement of Mr. Herndon that he was a 
religious man is, in a degree, true. 

The basis of Carpenter's work was a series of 
articles contributed to the New York Independent. 
When it was decided to publish these in book form, 
to swell them into a volume of the desired size, to 
his personal reminiscences he added many of the 
stories pertaining to Lincoln then going the rounds 
of the press. Although he was as it were a member 
of Lincoln's household six months he failed to hear 
from Lincoln's lips a word expressing a belief in 
Christianity. These apocryphal stories, and these 
alone, contain all the evidences of Lincoln's alleged 
piety to be found in Carpenter's book. And his 
admission that Lincoln was not a religious man dis- 
proves them. 

Mr. Hawley professed to believe that Lincoln was 
a Christian, but he had no personal knowledge of the 
fact, although his neighbor for many years. The 
only reasons he was able to adduce upon which to 
predicate his belief were the Bateman story and his 
farewell speech on leaving Springfield. The former 
has been exploded, the latter proves nothing. 


During all the later 3'ears of his life Lincoln gen- 
erally refrained from expressing his anti-Christian 
opinions, except to friends who shared his views. 
This silence, in connection with his sterling moral 
character, might lead some of his Christian neigh- 
bors to suppose that he was a believer, the more 
especially as Christians are generally ignorant of the 
extent of unbelief, and are loath to believe that a 
person, unless he openly avows his disbelief, can be 
an Infidel. 

According to Mr. Willets, Lincoln, during the 
war, had an attack of what he thought might be a 
" change of heart." He consulted a pious lady in 
regard to it and requested her to describe to him the 
symptoms attending this theological disease. She 
defined " a true religious experience " as " a con- 
viction of one's own sinfulness and weakness, and 
personal need of the Savior for strength and sup- 
port." She said that "when one was really brought 
to feel his need of divine help, and to seek the aid 
of the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance, it was 
satisfactory evidence of his having been born again." 
Lincoln replied that if what she had told him was 
" a correct view of this great subject," he hoped he 
was a Christian. But was this a correct view of it ? 
I was not aware that conviction constituted con- 
version. We have been taught that conviction is but 
a preliminary step toward conversion. If Lincoln 



relied upon this as a true exposition of this doctrine, 
the genuineness of his conversion may well be ques- 

It is to be regretted that Mr. Willets did not give 
the name of his informant. As it is, we do not know 
whether to credit " a lady acquaintance of his," or 
himself, with the invention of a first-class fiction. 

In regard to the story of the " Pious Nurse," we 
have not even a clergyman to vouch for its authen- 
ticity. We do not know the name of this witness ; 
we do not know whom she communicated the story 
to ; we do not know when nor where it made its first 
appearance. We only know that for years it has 
been floating through the columns of the religious 
press, a companion-piece to Washington's devotional 
exercise at Valley Forge. 

" History," said Napoleon, " is a set of lies agreed 
upon." Of the many lies agreed upon by Christian 
writers in making up the history of Lincoln, none 
has become more thoroughly established than the 
one originally published by the Western Christian 
Advocate. It has been incorporated into the works 
of a score of historians and biographers, and is 
almost universally accepted as a historical fact. 

Nearly all the pious stories relating to Lincoln, 
while palpably false in the eyes of those who knew 
him, are yet of such a nature as to render a com- 
plete refutation of them extremely difficult. The 


story under consideration, however, is of a different 
character. Its truthfulness or falsity could at the 
time of its publication have been easily ascertained. 
If true, any member of Lincoln's cabinet could have 
verified it. I knew that it was untrue at least I 
knew that a Cabinet meeting had never been trans- 
formed into a prayer meeting at Lincoln's sugges- 
tion. I finally resolved to demonstrate its falsity if 
possible. But a quarter of a century had passed 
away, and every member of Lincoln's Cabinet was 
dead save one, Hugh McCulloch, his last Secretary 
of the Treasury. With the aid of a friend, Mr. N. 
P. Stockbridge, of Ft. Wayne, Ind., an old acquaint- 
ance of Mr. McCulloch's, I succeeded in bringing the 
matter before this only surviving witness, and re- 
ceived from his pen, in February, 1891, the following 
prompt denial : 

" The description of what occurred at the Execu- 
tive Mansion, when the intelligence was received of 
the surrender of the Confederate forces, which you 
quote from the Western Christian Advocate, is not 
only absolutely groundless, but absurd. After I 
became Secretary of the Treasury I was present at 
every Cabinet meeting, and I never saw Mr. Lincoln 
or any of his ministers upon his knees or in tears. 

We were not especially jubilant over Lee's sur- 
render, for this we had been prepared for some 
days. The time for our great rejoicing was a little 


earlier. After Sherman had commenced his cele- 
brated march to the sea, and long and weary days 
had passed without any reliable reports from him, 
we were filled with anxiety and apprehension. It 
was when the news came that he and his army, in 
excellent condition, were in the neighborhood of 
Charleston, that our joy was irrepressible ; not only 
because of their safety, but because it was an assur- 
ance that the days of the Confederacy were nearly 
ended. With Grant before Richmond in command 
of superior forces, and Sherman with the finest 
arm\ T in the world, ready to move northward, every- 
body felt that the war must be soon concluded, and 


that the Union was safe. 

"We were, of course, happy when General Lee 
and his severely tried soldiers laid down their arms, 
but this, as I have said, was not unexpected. It was 
when our anxiety in regard to Sherman was suc- 
ceeded by hopefulness and confidence that our joy 
became exuberant. But there was no such exhibi- 
tion of it as has been published by the Advocate." 

An "Illinois Clergyman " reports Lincoln as say- 
ing that when he left Springfield he was not a Chris- 
tian, that when his son Willie died he was not a 
Christian, but that when he visited the battlefield of 
Gettysburg he gave his heart to Christ. Christians 
cite the testimony of this anonymous witness, seem- 
inglv unconscious of the fact that if true it refutes 

o * 


the testimony of every other Christian witness. If 
this statement be true what becomes of the testi- 
mony of Holland and Bateman? What becomes of 
the testimony of Reed's witnesses ? The testimony 
of Brooks invalidated the testimony of every other 
witness ; the testimony of this Illinois clergyman 
invalidates the testimony of Brooks itself. 

Eeed did not present this evidence, doubtless 
aware that his lecture already coutained a sufficient 
number of discrepancies. He was thoughtful enough, 
however, to anticipate it. He had Dr. Gurley refer 
to Lincoln's conversion as taking place "after the 
death of his son Willie and his visit to the battle- 
field of Gettysburg." These events are referred to 
as if they occurred in close proximity to each other ; 
whereas the death of Willie occurred during the 
first year of his administration, his visit to Gettys- 
burg less than seventeen months before his assassi- 

The passage quoted from Dr. Barrows contains 
six specific affirmations. 

1. " In the anxious uncertainties of the great war, 
he gradually rose to the hights where Jehovah be- 
came to him the sublimest of realities, the ruler of 

Collect all the utterances of Abraham Lincoln, all 
the letters he ever wrote, all the speeches he ever 
delivered, all the state papers he gave to the public ; 


and from this full store of words that fell from his 
lips and flowed from his pen, I challenge Dr. Bar- 
rows to produce one word expressing a recognition 
of Jehovah. Jehovah was to him, not " the sublim- 
est of realities," not " the ruler of nations," but a 
hideous phantom. He recognized a God, but his 
God was not Jehovah, the God of Dr. Barrows. 

2. " When he wrote his immortal Proclamation, he 
invoked upon it not only * the considerate judgment 
of mankind,' but ' the gracious favor of Almighty 
God.' " 

When he wrote his immortal Proclamation he did 
not invoke " the gracious favor of Almighty God." 
This instrument, as drafted by Lincoln, contained no 
allusion to God. The paragraph containing the 
words quoted was drafted by Secretary Chase and 
inserted in the Proclamation at his urgent request 
after it was printed and ready for delivery. 

3. " When darkness gathered over the brave 
armies fighting for the nation's life, this strong man, 
in the early morning, knelt and wrestled in prayer 
with Him who holds in his hand the fate of em- 

A " Christian lady from Massachusetts" (name un- 
known), and a Christian gentleman from New York 
(Noah Brooks), declare that Lincoln was accustomed 
to pray. This declaration is echoed by Arnold, and 
reechoed by Barrows. If true, is it not strange that 


a hospital nurse and a newspaper reporter were in 
possession of the fact while his most intimate friends 
were entirely ignorant of it ? 

4. " When the clouds lifted above the carnage of 
Gettysburg, he gave his heart to the Lord Jesus 

This is the fifth time that Lincoln gave his heart 
to Christ. The above statement is the vital one in 
Dr. Barrows's testimony the keystone in the arch 
comprising " the religious aspects ' of Lincoln's 
Presidential career. The others, even if true, only 
prove a Theistic belief. This statement affirms that 
he became a Christian a statement evidently based 
upon the anonymous story of the "Illinois clergy- 
man." Between the original presented by the " Illi- 
nois clergyman " at large, and that presented by the 
Illinois clergyman from Chicago, however, a grave 
discrepancy appears. From the time that il the 
clouds lifted above the carnage of Gettysburg " to 
the time that Lincoln visited its cemetery, a period 
of twenty weeks had elapsed. Now, did Lincoln 
give his heart to Christ when the battle ended on 
the 3rd of July, as stated by the one, or not until 
he stood upon the battle-field on the 19th of Novem- 
ber, as asserted by the other ? This is a question 
that we leave for the Illinois clergymen themselves 
to decide. 

5. When he pronounced his matchless oration on 


the chief battle-field of the war, he gave expression 
to the resolve that * this nation, under God, should 
have a new birth of freedom.' 

This simple Deistic phrase, " under God," is the 
only utterance of a religious character to be found in 
that oration. When this speech was delivered, Lin- 
coln, it is claimed, had experienced a change of heart, 
and consecrated himself to Christ. This address 
furnishes an overwhelming refutation of the claim. 
At the dedication of a cemetery, surrounded by 
thousands of graves, he ignores Christianity, and 
even the doctrine of immortality. 

6. "And when he wrote his last Inaugural Ad- 
dress, he gave to it the lofty tone of an old Hebrew 

This is true ; and it is likewise true that in that 
document he made no more reference to Christianity 
than did the Hebrew psalmist who lived and wrote 
a thousand years before it had its birth. 

The " Lincoln Memorial Album," in which Dr. 
Barrows's article appears, contains the offerings of 
two hundred contributors, twenty of them divines, 
and among them Lyman Abbot, Dr. Bellows, Theo- 
dore L. Cuyler, Robert Collyer, Bishop Coxe, Dr. 
Crosby, Bishop Haven, Philip Schaaf, and Bishop 
Simpson. The work is prefaced with a biographical 
sketch of Lincoln, written by Isaac N. Arnold, in 
which he makes substantially the same statements 


regarding Lincoln's belief as those made in his 
"Life of Lincoln." Aside from this, Dr. Barrows is 
the only one of these two hundred memorialists who 
ventures to affirm that Lincoln was a Christian. 

The story of Dr. Yinton, too absurd to demand 
serious consideration apparently too incredible for 
belief is yet believed by thousands. When such 
fabulous tales are told by men who are looked upon 
as the exponents of morality, and published in papers 
and periodicals that are presumed to be the repos- 
itories only of truth, it is not strange that such 
stories as Washington's Praying at Yalley Forge, 
Ethan Allen and His Daughter, Don't Unchain the 
Tiger, Paine's Recanting, and a thousand and one 
other pious fictions of a similar character, have 
gained popular credence. To read the fabrications 
of this class pertaining to Lincoln alone, one would 
suppose that this astute statesman, this Chief 
Magistrate of a great nation, this Commander-in- 
Chief of two millions of soldiers, engaged in the most 
stupendous civil conflict the world has known, occu- 
pied the greater portion of his time in studying the 
Scriptures, poring over doctrinal sermons, partici- 
pating in prayer-meetings led by pious nurses, and 
weeping upon the necks of clerical visitors. 

Bishop Simpson's remarks have been presented, 
not because they furnish any proofs of Lincoln's re- 
puted Christianity, but because he was one of the 



clergymen who officiated at Lincoln's funeral, and 
because his words on that occasion have been cited 
in support of this claim. But he does not assert 
that Lincoln was a Christian. He simply testifies to 
his belief and trust in God to his Deistic faith 
nothing more. 

I am aware that in some of the published reports 
of his address there have been interpolated words 
intended to convey the idea that Lincoln accepted 
Christ. Bishop Simpson, I am sure, never autho- 
rized the insertion of these words. They express a 
claim he never made a claim he certainly did not 
make on the day of Lincoln's interment. 

In his funeral address at Washington, Dr. Gurley 
did not affirm that Lincoln was a Christian, or that 
he was intending to make a profession of religion. 
Bishop Simpson, in his oration at Springfield, made 
no mention of these claims, and Dr. Gurley and 
Bishop Simpson are known to have held a consulta- 
tion before that oration was delivered. 

This silence is conclusive evidence that these men 
knew that Lincoln was an unbeliever. Commenting 
on this notable omission, Mr. Herndon says : 

" Bishop Simpson delivered the funeral oration, 
and in that oration there was not one word about 
Mr. Lincoln's Christianity. Bishop Simpson was 
Lincoln's friend; Dr. Gurley was Lincoln's pastor 
in Washington. Now these men knew, or had reason 


to know, Lincoln's religion, and the world would 
have heard of his Christianity on the day of his 
burial if it had been known. But Simpson and 
Gurley are silent dumb before the Christian world." 

One of the most beautiful and exhaustive tributes 
ever paid to Lincoln, aside from the matchless 
tribute paid by Colonel Ingersoll, is that from the 
pen of Bishop Simpson which appears in the " Lin- 
coln Memorial Album/' In this tribute he does not 
make even the remotest allusion to Lincoln's religious 
belief. He appears to have heeded the advice ten- 
dered a less discreet Christian writer, and recognized 
the fact that, from his standpoint, the less said about 
the subject the better. Had all Christians acted as 
wisely and as honorably in this matter as Bishop 
Simpson, this controversy about Lincoln's religion 
would never have arisen. 

I have now reviewed the testimony of these wit- 
nesses. Tested in the crucible of honest criticism, 
little remains of their statements save the dross of 
falsehood and error. I may be charged with unjust 
severity toward these witnesses, nearly all of whom 
are men of recognized respectability and distinction. 
But a majority of them have testified to what they 
know to be false, and against those who knowingly 
bear false witness no censure can be too severe. 
Thousands of Christian men and women, misled by 
this false testimony, honestly believe and contend 





that Lincoln was a Christian. Against these I have 
not an unkind word to offer. But I am resolved to 
disabuse their minds of this erroneous belief. Pain- 
ful as the birth of an unwelcome idea is, they/ shall 
know the truth. 






Herndon's Association with Lincoln Character Writings Com- 
petency as a Witness The Abbott Letter Contribution to the T/iberal 
Age Article in the Truth Seeker Herndon's "Life of Lincoln." 

HAVING presented and reviewed the evidence in 
behalf of the affirmative of this question, the evi- 
dence in support of the negative will next be given, 
and in consideration of his long and intimate asso- 
ciation with Lincoln, and the character and com- 
prehensiveness of his testimony, the first to testify 
will be Hon. Wm. H. Herndon, of Springfield, HI. 

In 1843, Lincoln formed a partnership with Mr. 
Herndon in the law business, which existed for a 
period of twenty-two years, and was only dissolved 
by the bullet of the assassin. The strong attach- 
ment that these men had for each other is illustrated 
in the following touching incident, related in " The 
Everyday Life of Lincoln :" 

When he was about to leave for Washington, he 
went to the dingy little law office which had shel- 
tered his saddest hours. He sat down on the couch 





and said to his law-partner, Herndon, ' Billy, you 
and I have been together more than twenty years, 
and have never u passed a word." Will you let my 
name stay on the old sign till I come back from 
Washington?' The tears started to Mr. Herndon's 
eyes. He put out his hand. ' Mr. Lincoln/ said he, 
* I will never have any other partner while you live ;' 
and to the day of the assassination all the doings of 
the firm were in the name of * Lincoln & Herndon' 
(Everyday Life of Lincoln, p. 377). 

Mr. Herndon died in 1891. Though younger than 
his illustrious partner, he was at the time of his 
death well advanced in years. He had retired from 
the active practice of law, and resided at his country 
home near Springfield. He was noted for his rugged 
honesty, for his broad philanthropy, and for his 
strong and original mental qualities. He was one of 
the pioneers in the antislavery movement, and one 
of the founders of the Republican party. He was 
the Republican nominee for Presidential Elector of 
the Springfield district when the first Republican 
ticket, Fremont and Dayton, was placed in the field. 
Governor Bissell, Governor Yates and Governor 
Oglesby successively appointed him Bank Commis- 
sioner of Illinois. His talents were recognized and 
his friendship was sought by many of the most emi- 
nent men in the nation. Garrison stopped for weeks 
at his home ; Theodore Parker was his guest ; Hor- 


ace Greeley was his devoted friend, and Charles 
Sumner was his friend and correspondent. 

When Lincoln and Herndon were first thrown into 
each other's society, Lincoln's mind was dwelling, for 
the most part, in the theological (or rather anti-theo- 
logical) world, while Herndon's found a most conge- 
nial habitation in the world of politics. They were 
destined to exercise an important influence in mold- 
ing each other's characters. Herndon was indebted 
chiefly to Lincoln for the religious views he enter- 
tained, while Lincoln was indebted mainly to Hern- 
don for the political principles which he finally 
espoused. Colonel Lamon, in his " Life of Lincoln," 
gives the following truthful sketch of the character 
of the man whom Lincoln made a Deist, and who in 
turn made an Abolitionist of Lincoln. Alluding to 
the Abolitionists of Illinois, as they appeared in 
1854, when Lincoln took his stand on the side of 
freedom, Lamon says : 

"Chief among them was Owen Lovejoy ; and 
second to him, if second to any, was William H. 
Herndon. But the position of this latter gentleman 
was one of singular embarrassment. According to 
himself, he was an Abolitionist ' some time before 
he was born,' and hitherto he had made his * calling 
and election sure ' by every word and act of a life 
devoted to political philanthropy and disinterested 
political labors. While the two great national parties 


divided the suffrages of the people, North and South, 
everything in his eyes was dead. He detested the 
bargains by which those parties were in the habit of 
composing sectional troubles, and sacrificing the 
principle of freedom. When the Whig party paid 
its breath to time, he looked upon its last agonies as 
but another instance of divine retribution. He had 
no patience with time-servers, and regarded with 
indignant contempt the policy which would postpone 
the natural rights of an enslaved race to the success 
of parties and politicians. He stood by at the sacri- 
fice of the Whig party in Illinois with the spirit of 
Paul when he held the clothes of them that stoned 
Stephen. He believed it was for the best, and hoped 
to see a new party rise in its place, great in the 
fervor of its faith, and animated by the spirit of 
Wilberforce, Garrison, and the Lovejoys. He was a 
fierce zealot, and gloried proudly in his title of 
' fanatic ;' for it was his conviction that fanatics were 
at all times the salt of the earth, with power to save 
it from the blight that follows the wickedness of 
men. He believed in a God, but it was the God of 
Nature the God of Socrates and Plato, as well as 
the God of Jacob. He believed in a Bible, but it 
was the open scroll of the universe ; and in a religion 
clear and well defined, but it was a religion that 
scorned what he deemed the narrow slavery of verbal 
inspiration. Hot-blooded, impulsive, brave, morally 


and physically, careless of consequences when moved 
bv a sense of individual duty, he was the very man 


to receive into his inmost heart the precepts of Mr. 
Seward's * higher law ' " (Life of Lincoln, pp. 350, 


His literary abilities, both as a speaker and as a 
writer, were of a high order. He had written a 
meritorious work on Mental Philosophy, and a " Life 
of Lincoln," which had just been published when he 
died. In addition to numerous addresses upon his- 
torical, economical, and other subjects he prepared 
and delivered several able and interesting lectures 
on Lincoln : " Abraham Lincoln and Ann Rutledge," 
a beautiful and touching representation of that 
pathetic and romantic love episode which forms one 
of the saddest chapters in Lincoln's history ; " The 
Analysis of Lincoln's Character," which appears in 
the " Lincoln Memorial Album," and " Lincoln's 
Religion," which was published in the State Register, 
of Springfield, 111. 

Carpenter, and in fact nearly every writer on Lin- 
coln, has made free use of Herndon's writings. 
Carpenter declares that his " masterly ' Analysis of 
Lincoln's Character ' has scarcely an equal in the 
annals of biographical literature." Both Holland 
and Lamon aaknowledge that they were more 
deeply indebted to him in the preparation of their 
respective works than to any other person. The 


Petersburg Democrat, published in Menard county, 
where Lincoln spent the first years of his manhood, 
says : " Mr. Herndon was the law partner of Mr. 
Lincoln from 1843 to 1860, and knew his inner life 
better than any other man." The Sangamon county 
Monitor, of Springfield, where Lincoln lived for a 
quarter of a century, says : " Herndon knew Lin- 
coln's views better than any man in America." 
Judge David Davis, the lifelong friend of Lincoln, 
in whose court both Lincoln and Herndon practiced 
for years, declared that Herndon knew more about 
Lincoln's religion than any other man. 

In this chapter will be reproduced the evidence of 
Mr. Herndon that has already been made public. 

The first elaborate exposition of Lincoln's Free- 
thought views was made in 1870, in what is known 
as the " Abbott Letter," an article which Mr. Hern- 
don by request contributed to the Index, a paper 
then published at Toledo, O., and edited by Francis 
E. Abbott. The article was extensively copied and 
commented upon, and produced a profound sensa- 
tion in the religious world, which, to a great extent, 
had been misled by such writers as Holland. The 
first and more important part of Mr. Herndon's 
article will now be presented : 

" MR. ABBOTT : Some time since I promised you 
that I would send a letter in relation to Mr. Lin- 
coln's religion. I do so now. Before entering ou 


that question, one or two preliminary remarks will 
help us to understand why he disagreed with the 
Christian world in its principles as well as in its 
theology. In the first place, Mr. Lincoln's mind 
was a purely logical mind ; secondly, Mr. Lincoln 
was a purely practical man. He had no fancy or 
imagination, and not much emotion. He was a real- 
ist as opposed to an idealist. As a general rule, it 
is true that a purely logical mind has not much 
hope, if it ever has faith in the unseen and unknown. 
Mr. Lincoln had not much hope and no faith in 
things that lie outside of the domain of demonstra- 
tion ; he was so constituted, so organized, that he 
could believe nothing unless his senses or logic 
could reach it. I have often read to him a law 
point, a decision, or something I fancied. He could 
not understand it until he took the book out of my 
hand, and read the thing for himself. He was ter- 
ribly, vexatiously skeptical. He could scarcely un- 
derstand anything, unless he had time and place 
fixed in his mind. 

" I became acquainted with Mr. Lincoln in 1834, 
and I think I knew him well to the day of his death. 
His mind, when a boy in Kentucky, showed a certain 
gloom, an unsocial nature, a peculiar abstractedness, 
a bold and daring skepticism. In Indiana, from 1817 
to 1830, it manifested the same qualities or attributes 
as in Kentucky : it only intensified, developed itself, 


along those lines in Indiana. He came to Illinois in 
1830, and, after some little roving, settled in New 
Salem, now in Menard county and state of Illinois. 
This village lies about twenty miles northwest of 
this city. It was here that Mr. Lincoln became ac- 
quainted with a class of men the world never saw 
the like of before or since. They were large men 
large in body and large in mind ; hard to whip and 
never to be fooled. They were a bold, daring, and 
reckless sort of men ; they were men of their own 
minds believed what was demonstrable ; were men 
of great common sense. With these men Mr. Lin- 
coln was thrown ; with them he lived, and with them 
he moved and almost had his being. They were 
skeptics all scoffers some. These scoffers were good 
men, and their scoffs were protests against theology 
loud protests against the follies of Christianity. 
They had never heard of Theism and the newer and 
better religious thoughts of this age. Hence, being 
natural skeptics, and being bold, brave men, they 
uttered their thoughts freely. They declared that 
Jesus was an illegitimate child. They were on all 
occasions, when opportunity offered, debating the 
various questions of Christianity among themselves. 
They took their stand on common sense and on their 
own souls ; and, though their arguments were rude 
and rough, no man could overthrow their homely 
logic. They riddled all divines, and not unfrequently 


made them skeptics, disbelievers as bad as them- 
selves. They were a jovial, healthful, generous, so- 
cial, true, and manly set of people. 

" It was here and among these people that Mr. 
Lincoln was thrown. About the year 1834 he 
chanced to come across Volney's ' Ruins ' and some 
of Paine's theological works. He at once seized 
hold of them, and assimilated them into his own 
being. Volney and Paine became a part of Mr. Lin- 
coln from 1834 to the end of his life. 

" In 1835 he wrote out a small work on Infidelity, 
and intended to have it published. This book was 
an attack upon the whole grounds of Christianity, 
and especially was it an attack upon the idea that 
Jesus was the Christ, the true and only-begotten son 
of God, as the Christian world contends. Mr. Lin- 
coln was at that time in New Salem, keeping store 
for Mr. Samuel Hill, a merchant and postmaster of 
that place. Lincoln and Hill were very friendly. 
Hill, I think, was a skeptic at this time. Lincoln, 
one day after the book was finished, read it to Mr. 
Hill, his good friend. Hill tried to persuade him 
not to make it public, not to publish it. Hill at that 
time saw in Mr. Lincoln a rising man, and wished 
him success. Lincoln refused to destroy it said it 
should be published. Hill swore it should never 
see light of da}^. He had an eye on Lincoln's 
popularity his present and future success ; and be- 


lieving that if the book was published it would kill 
Lincoln forever, he snatched it from Lincoln's hand 
when Lincoln was not expecting it, and ran it into an 
old-fashioned tinplate stove, heated as hot as a 
furnace ; and so Lincoln's book went up to the 
clouds in smoke. It is confessed by all who heard 
parts of it that it was at once able and eloquent ; 
and, if I may judge of it from Mr. Lincoln's subse- 
quent ideas and opinions, often expressed to me and 
to others in my presence, it was able, strong, plain, 
and fair. His argument was grounded on the 
internal mistakes of the Old and New Testaments, 
and on reason and 011 the experiences and observa- 
tions of men. The criticisms from internal defects 
were sharp, strong, and manly. 

" Mr. Lincoln moved to this city in 1837, and here 
became acquainted with various men of his own way 
of thinking. At that time they called themselves 
Freethinkers, or free thinking men. I remember all 
these things distinctly ; for I was with them, heard 
them, and Avas one of them. Mr. Lincoln here found 
other works Hume, Gibbon, and others and drank 
them in. He made no secret of his views ; no con- 
cealment of his religion. He boldly avowed himself 
an Infidel. 

"When Mr. Lincoln was a candidate for our 
Legislature, he was accused of being an Infidel and 
of having said that Jesus Christ was an illegitimate 


child. He never denied his opinions nor flinched 
from his religious views. He was a true man, and 
yet it may be truthfully said that in 1837 his religion 
was low indeed. In his moments of gloom he would 
doubt, if he did not sometimes deny, God. 

" Mr. Lincoln ran for Congress against the Rev. 
Peter Cartwright in the year 1846. In that contest 
he was accused of being an Infidel, if not an Atheist. 
He never denied the charge would not ' would die 
first.' In the first place, because he knew it could 
and would be proved on him ; and in the second 
place, he was too true to his own convictions, to his 
own soul, to deny it. 

" When Mr. Lincoln left this city for Washington, 
I knew he had undergone no change in his religious 
opinions or views. He held many of the Christian 
ideas in abhorrence, and among them there was this 
one, namely, that God would forgive the sinner for a 
violation of his laws. Lincoln maintained that God 
could not forgive ; that punishment has to follow the 
sin ; that Christianity was wrong in teaching for- 

"From what I know of Mr. Lincoln, and from 
what I have heard and verily believe, I can say, first, 
that he did not believe in a special creation, his idea 
being that all creation was an evolution under law ; 
secondly, that he did not believe that the Bible was 
a special revelation from God, as the Christian world 



contends ; thirdly, he did not believe in miracles as 
understood by Christians ; fourthly, he believed in 
universal inspiration and miracles under law ; fifthly, 
he did not believe that Jesus was the Christ, the son 
of God, as the Christian church contends ; sixthly, 
he believed that all things, both matter and mind, 
were governed by laws, universal, absolute, and 
eternal. All his speeches and remarks in Washing- 
ton conclusively prove this. Law was to Lincoln 
everything, and special interferences, shams and 

In 1874 Mr. Herndon delivered in Springfield a 
lecture on "Lincoln's Religion." It was a reply to 
Reed's lecture, and was published in the State Reg- 
ister, of Springfield. In this lecture he reaffirms the 
statements made in the " Abbott Letter," supports 
them with substantial arguments and proofs, and 
completely overthrows the claims advanced by Reed. 
From it I quote the following : 

" It is a curious fact that when any man by his 
genius, good fortune, or otherwise rises to public 
notice and to fame, it does not make much differ- 
ence what life he has led, that the whole Christian 
world claims him as a Christian, to be forever held 
tip to view as a hero and a saint during all the com- 
ing ages, just as if religion would die out of the soul 
of man unless the great dead be canonized as a 
model Christian. This is a species of hero or saint 


worship. Lincoln they are determined *o enthrone 
among the saints, to be forever worshiped as such." 
" I believe that Mr. Lincoln did not late in life 
become a firm believer in the Christian religion. 
What! Mr. Lincoln discard his logical faculties and 
reason with his heart ? What ! Mr. Lincoln believe 
that Jesus was the Christ of God, the true and only 
begotten son of him, as the Christian creed contends ? 
What! Mr. Lincoln believe that the New Testa- 
ment is of special divine authority, and fully and 
infallibly inspired, as the Christian contends? 
What! Mr. Lincoln abandon his lifelong ideas of 
universal, eternal and absolute laws and contend 
that the New Testament is any more inspired than 
Homer's poems, than Milton's * Paradise Lost,' than 
Shakspere, than his own eloquent and inspired 
oration at Gettysburg ? What ! Mr. Lincoln believe 
that the great Creator had connection through the 
form and instrumentality of a shadow with a Jewish 
girl ? Blasphemy ! These things must be believed 
and acknowledged in order to be a Christian." 

'One word concerning this discussion about Mr. 
Lincoln's religious views. It is important in this: 
1. It settles a historic fact. 2. It makes it possible 
to write a true history of a man free from the fear of 
fire and stake. 3. It assures the reading public 
that the life of Mr. Lincoln will be truly written. 
4. It will be a warning forever to all untrue men, 


that the life they have lived will be held up to view. 
5. It should convince the Christian pulpit and press 
that it is impossible in this day and generation, at 
least in America, to daub up sin, and make a hero 
out of a fool, a knave, or a villain, which Mr. Lincoln 
was not. -Some true spirit will drag the fraud and 
lie out to the light of day. 6. Its tendency will be 
to arrest and put a stop to romantic biographies. 
And now let it be written in history, and on Mr. 
Lincoln's tomb: * He died an unbeliever.' 

In January, 1883, Mr. Herudon contributed an 
article on " Lincoln's Religion" to the Liberal Age, 
of Milwaukee. From this article the following ex- 
tracts are taken and submitted : 

" In 1837, Mr. Lincoln moved to the city of Spring- 
field, and there came across many people of his own 
belief. Thev called themselves at that time Free- 

thinkers. Some of these men were highly educated 
and polished gentlemen. Mr. Lincoln read in this 
city Hume, Gibbon, and other Liberal books. He 
was in this citv from 1837 to 1861, an Infidel Free- 


thinker Liberal Free Religionist of the radical 

" In his philosophy, he was a realist, as opposed 
to an idealist ; he was a sensationalist, as opposed to 
an intuitionalist ; and was a materialist as opposed 
to a spiritualist." 

" Some good men and women say that Mr. Lincoln 



was a Christian, because he was a moral man. They 
say that he was a rational Christian, because he loved 
morality. Do not other people, who are not Chris- 
tians, love morality? Morality is not Hue test of 
Christianity, by any means. If it is the test, then 
all moral men, Atheists, Agnostics, Infidels, Moham- 
medans, Buddhists, Mormons, and the rest, are 
Christians. A rational Christian is an anomaly, an 
impossibility ; because when reason is left free, it 
demands proofs it relies on experience, observa- 
tion, logic, nature, laws. Why not call Mr. Lincoln 
a rational Buddhist, a rational Mohammedan, a 
rational Confucian, a rational Mormon, for all these, 
if true to their faith, love morality." 

" Did Mr. Lincoln believe in prayer as a means of 
moving God ? It is said to me by Christians, touch- 
ing his religion : ' Did not he, in his parting speech 
in Springfield, in 1861, say. " I hope you, my friends, 
will pray that I may receive," etc.?' and to which I 
sa J> yes. In his last Inaugural he said : ' Fondly 
do we hope, fervently do we pray.' These ex- 
pressions are merely conventional. They do not 
prove that Mr. Lincoln believed that prayer is a 
means of moving God. . . . He believed, as I 
understood him, that human prayer did the prayer 
good ; that prayer was but a drum beat the taps of 
the spirit on the living human soul, arousing it to acts 
of repentance for bad deeds done, or to inspire it to a 


loftier and a higher effort for a nobler and a grander 

"Did Mr. Lincoln, in his said Inaugural, say: 
' Both read the same Word of God ?' No, because 
that would be admitting revelation. He said : ' Both 
read the same Bible' Did Mr. Lincoln say: 'Yet 
if God wills that it [the war] continue till all the 
wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and 
fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until 
every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid 
with another drawn by the sword, as ivas said by God 
three thousand years ago ?' He did not ; he was 
cautious, and said : ' As ivas said three thousand 
years ago.' Jove never nods." 

A little later Mr. Herndon wrote an article entitled, 
" Abraham Lincoln's Religious Belief," which 
appeared in the Truth Seeker of New York. From 
this article I quote the following passages : 

"In 1842 I heard Mr. Lincoln deliver a speech 
before the Washingtonian Temperance Society, of 
this city. . . . He scored the Christians for the 
position they had taken. He said in that lecture 
this : 'If they [the Christians] believe, as they pro- 
fess that Omnipotence condescended to take on 
himself the form of sinful man,' etc. This was 
spoken with energy. He scornfully and contempt- 
uously emphasized the words as they profess. The 
rebuke was as much in the manner of utterance as 


in the substance of what was said. I heard the 
criticisms of some of the Christians that night. 
They said the speech was an insult and an outrage." 

" It is my opinion that no man ever heard Mr. 
Lincoln pray, in the true evangelical sense of that 
word. His philosophy is against all human prayer, 
as a means of reversing God's decrees." 

" He has told me often that there was no freedom 
in the human will, and no punishment beyond this 
world. He denied God's higher law, and wrote on 
the margin of a newspaper to his friends in the 
Chicago convention in 1860, this : ' Lincoln agrees 
with Seward in his irrepressible-conflict idea ; but 
he is opposed to Se ward's higher law.' This paper 
was handed to Judge Davis, Judge Logan, and other 

" Mr. Lincoln and a minister, whose name is kept 
in the dark, had a conversation about religion. It ap- 
pears that Mr. Lincoln said that when his son bone 
of his bone, flesh of his flesh, and blood of his own 
heart died, though a severe affliction, it did not 
arouse him to think of Christ ; but when he saw the 
graves of so many soldiers strangers to him . 
. that sad sight aroused him to love Jesus. . . 
. It is a fine thing for the reputation of the * Illinois 
Clergyman ' that his name is to the world unknown. 
It is a most heartless thing, this supposed conversa- 
tion of Lincoln with the Illinois clergyman. What ! 


Lincoln feel more for the graves of strangers than 
for the death of his once living, loving, and lovable 
son, now dead, moldering to ashes in the silent 
tomb ! The charge is barbarous. To make Lincoln 
a lover of Jesus, whom he once ridiculed, this 
minister makes him a savage." 

" I wish to give an illustration of the uncertainty 
and unreliability of those loose things that tioat 
around in the newspapers of the day, and how liable 
things are to be inaccurate so made even by the 
best of men. Mr. Lincoln on the morning he started 
for Washington to take the oath of office, and be in- 
augurated President of this great Republic, gave a 
short farewell address to his old friends. It was 
eloquent and touching. That speech is copied in 
Holland's * Life of Lincoln/ in Arnold's ' Lincoln 
and Slavery/ and in Lamon's ' Life of Lincoln/ and 
no two are exactly alike. If it is hard to get the 
exact truth on such an occasion as this, how impos- 
sible is it to get at Mr. Lincoln's sayings which have 
been written out by men weeks and months after 
what he did say have passed by ! All these loose 
and foolish things that Mr. Lincoln is supposed to 
have said are like the cords of driftwood, floating on 
the bosom of the groat Mississippi, down to the 
great gulf of Forgetfulness. Let them go." 

Herndon's "Life of Lincoln," is a most important 
contribution to biographical literature. It will 


enable the present and future generations to become 
better acquainted with Lincoln the man than with 
any other prominent American. The author has 
performed substantially the same work for Lincoln 
that Boswell performed for Johnson ; only he has 
performed it more faithfully. Political partisans 
and religious bigots may condemn the work, but im- 
partial critics are almost unanimous in their praise 
of it. 

The metropolitan journals of Lincoln's and Hern- 
don's own state commend the work. The Chicago 
Tribune says : " All these loving adherents [of Lin- 
coln] will hail Herndon's ' Lincoln ' with unmixed, 
unbounded joy." The Chicago Times says : " Hern- 
don's * Life ' is the best yet written." The Inter 
Ocean says that Herndon " knew more of Lincoln's 
inner life than any living man." The Chicago Herald 
says : " It enables one to approach more closely to 
the great President." The Chicago Evening Journal 
says : " It presents a truthful and living picture of 
the greatest of Americans." 

The Nation thus refers to it : " The sincerity and 
honesty of the biographer appear on every page." 
The New York Sun says : " The marks of unflinch- 
ing veracity are patent in every line." The Wash- 
ington Capital says that it places " Lincoln before 
the world as he really was." The Commercial 
Gazette, of Cincinnati, says : " He describes the life 



of his friend Lincoln just as he saw it." The Morn- 
ing Call, of San Francisco, affirms that it " contains 
the only true history of the lamented President." 
The St. Louis Republic says : " It will do more to 
shape the judgment of posterity on Mr. Lincoln's 
character than all that has been written or will be 
hereafter written." 

In this work Mr. Herndon states in brief the sub- 
stance of the articles already quoted in this chapter. 
I quote as follows : 

" No man had a stronger or firmer faith in Provi- 
dence God than Mr. Lincoln, but the continued 
use by him late in life of the word God must not be 
interpreted to mean that he believed in a per- 
sonal God. In 1854 he asked me to erase the word 
God from a speech which I had written and read to 
him for criticism, because my language indicated a 
personal God, whereas he insisted that no such per- 
sonality ever existed " (Life of Lincoln, pp. 445, 446). 

"The world has always insisted on making an 
orthodox Christian of him, and to analyze his 
language or sound his belief is but to break the idol ' 

" The benevolence of his impulses, the seriousness 
of his convictions, and the nobility of his character, 
are evidences unimpeachable that his soul was ever 
filled with the exalted purity and the sublime faith 
of natural religion " (Ib.). 





Extracts from Herndon's Letters The Books Lincoln Read Hia 
Philosophy His Infidelity Refutation of Christian Claims Attempts 
to Invalidate Herndon's Testimony Reed's Calumnies Vindication. 

IN the preceding chapter has been submitted the 
evidence of Mr. Herndon that has already been pub- 
lished. In this chapter will be presented some 
hitherto unpublished testimony. 

The writer corresponded with Mr. Herndon for 
many years. Much of this correspondence related to 
Abraham Lincoln, and no inconsiderable portion of 
it to the subject under consideration. Permission 
was granted by Mr. Herndon to use such parts of 
this correspondence as may be deemed of value. 
The limits of this work preclude the presentation of 
much that is really interesting, but no apology is 
needed for devoting space to the following extracts 
from his letters, written at various intervals between 
1880 and 1890 : 

'I was the personal friend of Mr. Lincoln from 
1834 to the day of his death. In 1843 we entered 


into a partnership which was never formally dis- 
solved. When he became unpopular in this Con- 
gressional district because of his speeches on the 
Mexican war, I was faithful to him. When he 
espoused the antislavery cause and in the eyes of 
most men had hopelessly ruined his political pros- 
pects, I stood by him, and through the press defended 
his course. In these dark hours, by our unity of 
sentiment and by political ostracism we were driven 
to a close and enduring friendship. You should take 
it for granted, then, that I knew Mr. Lincoln well. 
During all this time, from 1834 to 1862, when I last 
saw him, he never intimated to me, either directly or 
indirectly, that he had changed his religious opinions. 
Had he done so had he let drop one word or look 
in that direction, I should have detected it. 

" I had an excellent private library, probably the 
best in the city for admired books. To this library 
Mr. Lincoln had, as a matter of course, full and free 
access at all times. I purchased such books as 
Locke, Kant, Fichte, Lewes ; Sir Wm. Hamilton's 
* Discussions on Philosophy ;' Spencer's ' First 
Principles,' * Social Statics,' etc.; Buckle's ' History 
of Civilization,' and Lecky's ' History of Rational- 
ism.' I also possessed the works of Parker, Paine, 
Emerson, and Strauss ; Gregg's * Creed of Christen- 
dom,' McNaught on Inspiration, Yolney's ' Ruins,' 
Feuerbach's ' Essence of Christianity,' and other 


works on Infidelity. Mr. Lincoln read some of these 
works. About the year 1843 he borrowed ' The Ves- 
tiges of Creation' of Mr. James W. Keys, of this 
city, and read it carefully. He subsequently read 
the sixth edition of this work, which I loaned him. 
Mr. Lincoln had always denied special creation, but 
from his want of education he did not know just 
what to believe. He adopted the progressive and 
development theory as taught more or less directly 
in that work. He despised speculation, especially 
in the metaphysical world. He was purely a prac- 
tical man. He adopted Locke's notions as his system 
of mental philosophy, with some modifications to 
suit his own views. He held that reason drew her 
inferences as to law, etc., from observation, experi- 
ence, and reflection on the facts and phenomena of 
nature. He was a pure sensationalist, except as above. 
He was a materialist in his philosophy. He denied 
dualism, and at times immortality in any sense. 

" Before I wrote my Abbott letter I diligently 
searched through Lincoln's letters, speeches, state 
papers, etc., to find the word immortality, and I could 
not find it anywhere except in his letter to his 
father. The word immortality appears but once in 
his writings." 

' If he had been asked the plain question, * Do 
you know that a God exists?' he would have said: 
' I do not know that a God exists.' " 


" At one moment of his life I know that he was an 
Atheist. I was preparing a speech on Kansas, and 
in it, like nearly all reformers, I invoked God. He 
made me wipe out that word and substitute the word 
Maker, affirming that said Maker was a principle of 
the universe. When he went to Washington he did 
the same to a friend there." 

" Mr. Lincoln told me, over and over, that man 
has no freedom of will, or, as he termed it, 'No man 
has a freedom of mind.' He was in one sense a 
fatalist, and so died. He believed that he was 
under the thumb of Providence (which to him was 
but another name for fate). The longer he lived the 
more firmly he believed it, and hence his oft invoca- 
tions of God. But these invocations are no evidence 
to a rational mind that he adopted the blasphemy 
that God seduced his own daughter, begat a son on 
purpose to have mankind kill him, in order that he, 
God, might become reconciled to his own mistakes, 
according to the Christian view." 

"Lincoln would wait patiently on the flow and 
logic of events. He believed that conditions make 
the man and not man the conditions. Under his 
own hand he says : ' I attempt no compliment to my 
own sagacity. I claim not to have controled events, 
but confess plainly that events have controled me.' 
He believed in the supreme reign of law. This law 
fated things, as he would express it. Now, how 



could a man be a Christian could believe that Jesus 
Christ was God could believe in the efficacy of 
prayer and entertain such a belief?" 

"He did not believe in the efficacy of prayer, 
although he used that conventional language. He 
said in Washington, ' God has his own purposes.' 
If God has his own purposes, then prayer will not 
change God's purposes." 

"I have often said to you, and now repeat it, that 
Lincoln was a scientific Materialist, i.e., that this 
was his tendency as opposed to the Spiritualistic 
idea. Lincoln always contended that general and 
universal laws ruled the universe always did do 


now and ever will. He was an Agnostic generally, 
sometimes an Atheist." 

" That Mr. Lincoln was an Infidel from 1834 to 
1861, I know, and that he remained one to the day 
of his death, I honestly believe. I always under- 
stood that he was an Infidel, sometimes bordering 
on Atheism. I never saw any change in the man, 
and the change could not have escaped my observa- 
tion had it happened." 

' Lincoln's task was a terrible one. When he took 
the oath of office his soul was bent on securing har- 
mony among all the people of the North, and so he 
chose for his Cabinet officers his opponents for the 
Presidential candidacy in order and as a means of 
creating a unite.d North. He let all parties, profes- 


sions, and callings have their way where their wishes 
did not cut across his own. He was apparently 
pliant and supple. He ruled men when men thought 
they were ruling him. He often said to me that the 
Christian religion was a dangerous element to deal 
with when aroused. He saw in the Kansas affairs 
in the whole history of slavery, in fact its rigor 
and encroachments, that Christianity was aroused. 
It must be controled, and that in the right direction. 
Hence he bent to it, fed it, and kept it within bounds, 
well knowing that it would crush his administra- 
tion to atoms unless appeased. His oft and 
oft invocations of God, his conversations with 
Christians, his apparent respect for Chris- 
tianity, etc., were all means to an end. And 
yet sometimes he showed that he hated its nasal 

"A gentleman of veracity in Washington told me 
this story and vouched for its truthfulness : ' A tall 
saddle-faced man,' said he, ' came to Washington to 
pray with Lincoln, having declared this to be his 
intention at the hotel About 10 o'clock A.M. the 
bloodless man, dressed in black with white cravat, 
went to the White House, sent in his card, and was 
admitted. Lincoln glanced at the man and knew his 
motives in an instant. He said to him angrily : 
"What, have you, too, come to torment me with 
your prayers ? ' The man was squelched said, " No, 



Mr. Lincoln " lied out and out. Lincoln spoiled 
those prayers.'" 

"Mr. Lincoln was thought to be understood by 
the mob. But what a delusion ! He was one of -the 
most reticent men that ever lived. All of us Stuart, 
Speed, Logan, Matheny, myself, and others, had to 
guess at much of the man. He was a mystery to the 
world a sphinx to most men. One peculiarity of 
Mr. Lincoln was his irritability when anyone tried 
to peep into his own mind's laboratory. Consider- 
ing all this, what can be thought of the stories about 
what he is said to have confided to strangers in 
regard to his religion ? " 

" Not one of Lincoln's old acquaintances in this 
city ever heard of his conversion to Christianity by 
Dr. Smith or anyone else. It was never suggested 
nor thought of here until after his death." 

" I never saw him read a second of time in Dr. 
Smith's book on Infidelity. He threw it down upon 
our table spit upon it as it were and never opened 
it to my knowledge." 

' My opinion is, from what I have heard and know, 
that these men Gurley and Simpson refused to be 
a party to a fraud on the public touching Lincoln's 
religion. I think that thev understood each other 


the day that the remains of Lincoln were put to 

l< Holland came into my office, in 1865, and asked 


me this question : ' What about Mr. Lincoln's Chris- 
tianity ? ' To this, I replied : * The less said about 
it the better.' Holland then said to me, * Oh, never 
mind, I'll fix that,' and went over to Bateman and 
had it fixed." 

" Lincoln never revealed to Judge Davis, Judge 
Matheny, Joshua R Speed, Joseph Gillespie, nor 
myself that he was a Christian, or that he had a, I 
change of heart, or anything like it, at any time. 
Now, taking into consideration the fact that he was 
one of the most non-communicative of men that 
Bateman was, as it were, a mere stranger to him 
that Bateman was frightened, excited, conscience- 
smitten when I approached him on the subject, and 
that in after years he confessed to me that his notes 
in Holland's 'Life of Lincoln' were colored taking 
all this into consideration, I say, can you believe 
Bateman's story to be true ? " 

" I see quoted frequently a supposed speech made 
by Mr. Lincoln to the colored people of Baltimore, 
on the presentation of a Bible to him. This sup- 


posed speech contains the following : ' All the good 
from the Savior of the world is communicated to us 
through this book.' This idea is false and foolish. 
What becomes of nine-tenths of the life of Jesus of 
which we have no history nine-tenths of the great 
facts of this grand man's life not recorded in this 
book? Mr. Lincoln was full and exact in his 



language. He never used the word Savior, unless in 
a conventional sense ; in fact, he never used the word 
at all. Again, he is made to say : * But for this book 
we could not know right from wrong. 5 The lowest 
organized life, I was about to say, knows right from 
wrong in its particular sphere. Every good dog that 
comes into possession of a bone, knows that that 
bone belongs to him, and he knows that it is wrong 
for another dog to rob him of it. He protests with 
bristling hair and glistening teeth against such dog 
robbery. It requires no revelation to teach him 
right from wrong in the dog world; yet it requires a 
special revelation from God to teach us right from 
wrong in the human world. According to this 
speech, the dog has the advantage. But Mr. Lincoln 
never uttered such nonsense." 

" I do think that anyone who knew Mr. Lincoln 
his history his philosophy his opinions and still 
asserts that he was a Christian, is an unbounded 
falsifier. I hate to speak thus plainly, but I cannot 
respect an untruthful man." 

" Let me ask the Christian claimant a few ques- 
tions. Do you mean to say, when you assert that 
Mr. Lincoln was a Christian, that he believed that 
Jesus was the Christ of God, as the evangelical 
world contends ? If so, where do you get your 
information? Do you mean to say that Mr. Lincoln 
wss a converted man and that he so declared ? If so, 


where, when, and before whom did he declare or 
reveal it ? Do you mean to say that Mr. Lincoln 
joined a' church ? If so, what church did he join, 
and when did he join it? Do you mean to say that 
Mr. Lincoln was a secret Christian, acting under the 
cloak of the devil to advance Christianity ? If so, 
what is your authority ? If you will tell me when it 
was that the Creator caught with his almighty arms, 
Abraham, and held him fast while he poured the oil 
of grace on his rebellious soul, then I will know 
when it was that he was converted from his Infidel 
views to Christianity." 

" The best evidence this side of Lincoln's own 
written statement that he was an Infidel, if not an 
Atheist, as claimed by some, is the fact that he never 
mentions the name of Jesus. If he was a Christian 
it could be proved by his letters and speeches. That 
man is a poor defender of a principle, of a person, or 
of a thing, who never mentions that principle, person, 
or thing. I have never seen the name of Jesus men- 
tioned by Mr. Lincoln." 

" Mr. Lincoln never mentioned the name of Christ 
in his letters and speeches as a Christian. I h^ve 
searched for such evidence, but could not find it. I 
have had others search, but they could not .find it. 
This dead silence on the part of Mr. Lincoln is over- 
whelming proof that he was an unbeliever." 

"While Lincoln frequently, in a conventional 



way, appeals to God, he never appeals to Christ nor 
mentions him. I know that he at first maintained 
that Jesus was a bastard, and later that he was the 
son of Joseph and not of God." 

" Lincoln was not a Christian in any sense other 
than that he lived a good life and was a noble man. 
If a good life constitutes one a Christian, then Mill 
and a million other men who repudiated and denied 
Christianity were Christians, for they lived good and 
noble lives." 

"If Mr. Lincoln changed his religious views he 
owed it to me to warn me, as he above all other men 
caused me to be an unbeliever. He said nothing to 
me, intimated nothing to me, either directly or in- 
directly. He owed this debt to many young men 
whom he had led astray, if astray the Christian calls 
it. I know of two young men of promise, now dead 
and gone gone into endless misery, according to 
the evangelical creed caused by Mr. Lincoln's 
teachings. I know some of the living here, men 
in prominent positions of life, who were made un- 
believers by him." 


'One by one, these apocryphal stories go by the 
board. Courageous and remorseless criticism will 
wipe out all these things. There will not be a 
vestige of them in fifty years to laugh at or to weep 

Mr. Herndon's testimony, even in the absence of 


all other evidence, is concluaive. This was recog- 
nized by the Christian claimants after the appear- 
ance of his " Abbott Letter." They employed various 
measures to break the force of his testimony by 
trying to induce him either to retract or modify his 
statements. But they were not successful. He was 
not to be coaxed, he was not to be purchased, he 
was not to be intimidated. He had stated the truth 
and by the truth he proposed to stand. Foiled in 
these efforts, their last resort was to destroy his 
credibility as a witness by destroying his character. 
The most brazen falsehoods were invented and the 
most cruel calumnies circulated in order to crush 

him. Some of these stated that he was a drunkard, 
others that he was a pauper, and still others that he 
had become insane. 

These defamatory statements were usually first 
noticed in some religious paper or periodical. From 
this they were naturally copied into the secular 
papers and sent broadcast over the land. Journalists 
who had once known Mr. Herndon, either personally 
or by reputation, were surprised and shocked at the 
announcements, and wrote articles like the following 
which appeared in a Kansas paper : 

"Bill Herndon is a pauper in Springfield, 111. He 
was once worth considerable property. His mind 
was the most argumentative of any of the old lawyers 
in the state, and his memory was extraordinary 



For several years before Lincoln was nominated for 
the Presidency, Herndon was in some respects the 
most active member of the tirrn, preparing the 
greatest number of cases for trial and making elab- 
orate arguments in their behalf. It is said that he 
worked hard with Lincoln in preparing the memo- 
rable speeches delivered by the man who afterward 
became President, during the debates between Lin- 
coln and Douglas in 1858, and in constructing the 
Cooper Institute address delivered by Lincoln a 
short time before the war. Herndon, with all his 
attainments, was a man who now and then went on 
a spree. This habit became worse after Lincoln's 
death, and, like poor Dick Yates, he went down step 
by step till his old friends and associates point to 
him as a common drunkard." 

I was in Springfield the very week that this article 
was published, and passed a day with Mr. Herndon 
at his home. I was prepared to testify, as all his 
neighbors were, that the charges it contained, to- 
gether with others that were being circulated, 
were false. I knew that he still possessed a sound 
and vigorous intellect ; I knew that he was in com- 
fortable circumstances financially ; I knew that he 
was an earnest advocate of temperance, and that he 
practiced what he preached ; in short, I knew him 
to be a man of pure morals and exemplary character. 
At the very time that he was declared to be an in- 



mate of the insane asylum, the Old Settlers' Society 
selected him to examine and report upon the correct- 
ness of the " History of Sangamon County," which, 
as it included a history of the capital of the state 
where, at one time or another, had resided a major- 
ity of Illinois' s most gifted sons, was an important 
work, and one whose revision would not likely be 
intrusted to a lunatic. At the very time that he 
was said to be a pauper in the county poorhouse, he 
was entertaining such distinguished guests as 
William Lloyd Garrison. At the very time that he 
was reported to be a common drunkard, his neigh- 
bors had just appointed him guardian of the educa- 
tional interests of their children. 

All efforts to trace these slanders to their source 
and discover their author proved futile until 1880, 
when the writer of this saw in an Ohio paper an 
article on Lincoln, in which was quoted a portion of 
a letter which the contributor of the article stated 
had just been received from the Rev. J. A. Reed, of 
Springfield. It related wholly to Mr. Herndon, and 
did not contain one fair, truthful statement. In 
thirty brief lines were concentrated, in addition to 
several statements calculated and intended to de- 
ceive, no less than sixteen deliberate falsehoods, 
some of them of the most cruel and infamous char- 
acter. It was evident that Reed had intended that 
the substance of his letter should be given to the 


public without disclosing its authorship. But, 
thanks to the innocent credulity and indiscreetness 
of the friend to whom it was sent, the defamer was 
discovered and exposed. And this sneaking, cow- 
ardly assassin was the " defender of Lincoln's Chris- 
tian faith !" Could the inanimate remains of Abra- 
ham Lincoln have been revivified when this ex- 
posure was made, he would have arisen from his 
mausoleum at Oak Ridge, have come into the city, 
and have kicked this pretended "defender," this 
base calumniator of his beloved friend and associ- 
ate, out of Springfield. 

The cause of all the vituperation which for years 
had been heaped upon Mr. Herndon was now appar- 
ent. He had replied to Reed's lecture, and openly, 
honestly, and courteously, but effectively, refuted it : 
and because the latter could not come forward with 
a successful rejoinder, he was thus heartlessly and 
covertly plunging a dagger into the reputation of his 
chivalrous opponent. 

The intercession of friends secured for the culprit 
immunity from arrest for libel, but in the newspapers 
of his city he received such a castigation as he will 
not soon forget. The Daily Monitor, in an editorial 
replying to the slanders that were being circulated 
concerning Mr. Herndon, said : 

' Mr. Herndon is not a pauper, is not a drunkard ; 
whisky did not ruin him, and, in a word, the whole 


thing is a lie. Mr. Herndon lives on his farm near 
this city. He is a great admirer of nature, loves 
flowers, and spends his whole time on the farm, ex- 
cept when doing his trading, or coming into the city 
to see his children and grandchildren. He don't 
drink, he don't chew tobacco, he don't gamble, he is 
honorable and truthful, and he is highly respected 
by his fellow-citizens. He is a great reader, a great 
thinker, loves his neighbors and his neighbors love 
him. He has a great, big, kind heart for his fellow- 
man in distress, and, while never worth ' consider- 
able property,' he has always had enough for his 
generous purposes. Just why this thing should be 
allowed we are at a loss to know, and have waited to 
see if some of those who profess so much of the 
Christ-like in their composition would not have 
enough of the man-like .to be men, and not allow a 
good and true man as Mr. Herndon is to be thus in- 
famously maligned and belied by those whose works 
in the salvation of men would have more effect if 
more akin to Christ in practice." 

After a life of honest toil, much of it in behalf of 
the poor and the weak, without reward and without 
the expectation of reward, to be in his old age thus 
shamefully robbed of his good name, was an outrage 
almost without a parallel, save in the treatment re- 
ceived by Thomas Paine. That Mr. Herndon was 
keenly sensitive to this great wrong is disclosed by 



the tone of his letters written at the time. In one 
he says : " I have done nothing in the spirit of self- 
laudation. I prefer moving down the grooves of 
time unnoticed and unknown, except to friends. I 
have no ambition for fame or money. My ambition 
is to try to do good. I spent ten or more years of 
my best life for the negro, liberty, and union, not 
forgetting Kansas and her brave people. But let it 
all go ; I make no complaint. I try to live a moral 
and a manly life, love my fellow man, love freedom, 
love justice, and would die for the eternal right." 

As an index of public sentiment in the community 
where the defamed and the defamer resided, I will 
state two facts. On a pleasant September evening, 
in 1882. I attended Dr. Reed's church in Springfield. 
In that commodious edifice, built to accommodate an 
audience of nearly one thousand, I found assembled 
to listen to this renowned " defender of Lincoln's 
Christian faith," an audience of forty-four persons. 
About the same time, in the published report of a 
public meeting held near Springfield, appeared the 
following : " Five thousand people hovered around 
the speaker's stand for the purpose of listening to 
the able, eloquent, and well-known Hon. W. H. 

It has been charged that Mr. Herndon's statements 
concerning Lincoln's unbelief were inspired by a 
spirit of revenge in consequence of Lincoln's not 



having recognized him with an appointment. This 
charge and this assumption are both false. There 
is now on file at Washington and at Springfield a 
telegram from Lincoln tendering him a judgeship, 
which he declined. 

To know Lincoln was to love him. None knew 
him better than Mr. Herndon, and none entertained 
a deeper affection for his memory. In a letter to me, 
dated Nov. 4, 1881, he pays this tribute to his dead 
friend : 

"Some people say that Mr. Lincoln was an un- 
grateful man. This is not true, and especially when 
applied to myself. He was always kind, tender, and 
grateful to me clung to me with hooks of steel. I 
know that I was true to him. It is said that no man 
is great to his valet. If I was Mr. Lincoln's valet, 
the rule does not apply in this case, for my opinion 
of him is too well known. His was a grand, noble, 
true, and manly life. He dreamed dreams of glory, 
and glory was justly his. He was growing and ex- 
panding to the day of his death. He was slow in 
his development, but strong and big when he did 
come. The last letter which I ever received from 
him concluded thus : ' God bless you, says your 
friend. A. Lincoln. 9 He felt what he expressed, and 
in return I say, God bless you, Lincoln." 




Lamon's " Life of Lincoln " Lincoln's Early Skepticism His Inves- 
tigations at New Salem His Book on Infidelity His Religious Opin- 
ions Remain Unchanged Holland's Condemnation of Lamon's Work 
Holland's and Lamon's Works Compared. 

IN 1872, seven years after the President's assassi- 
nation, appeared the "Life of Abraham Lincoln," 
written by Col. Ward H. Lamon. As a faithful 
record of the life of one of the most sublime char- 
acters in the world's history, this work stands un- 
rivaled. More accomplished writers have written 
biography have written the biography of Lincoln. 
But no writer has ever been more thoroughly in- 
formed respecting his subject, and no writer has ever 
made a more conscientious use of the information in 
his possession than has Colonel Lamon in his " Life 
of Lincoln." In Illinois he was the friend and con- 
fidant of Lincoln. When the time approached for 
Lincoln to take the Executive chair, and the journey 
from Springfield to Washington was deemed a danger- 
ous undertaking, to Colonel Lamon was intrusted the 
responsible duty of conducting him to the national 


capital. Daring the eventful years that followed, 
he remained at the President's side, holding an im- 
portant official position in the District of Columbia. 
When Lincoln died, at the great funeral pageant in 
Washington, he led the civic procession, and was, 
with Major General Hunter and Judge David Davis, 
selected to convey the remains to their iinal resting- 
place at Springfield. 

The following extract, from the preface to his 
work, shows what an inexhaustible mine of materials 
he had with which to prepare a full and authentic 
record of Lincoln's life and character : 

"At the time of Mr. Lincoln's death, I determined 
to write his history, as I had in my possession much 
valuable material for such a purpose. . . . Early 
in 1869, Mr. Herndon placed at my disposal his 
remarkable collection of materials the richest, 
rarest, and fullest collection it was possible to con- 
ceive. . . . Mr. Herndon had been the partner 
in business and the intimate personal associate of 
Mr. Lincoln for something like a quarter of a cent- 
ury; and Mr. Lincoln had lived familiarly with 
several members of his family long before their 
individual acquaintance began. New Salem, Spring- 
field, the old judicial circuit, the habits and friends 
of Mr. Lincoln, were as well known to Mr. Herndoii 
as to himself. With these advantages, and from the 
numberless facts and hints which had dropped from 


Mr. Lincoln during the confidential intercourse of an 
ordinary lifetime, Mr. Herndon was able to institute 
a thorough system of inquiry for every noteworthy 
circumstance and every incident of value in Mr. 
Lincoln's career. The fruits of Mr. Herndon's 
labors are garnered in three enormous volumes of 
original manuscripts and a mass of unarranged 
letters and papers. They comprise the recollections 
of Mr. Lincoln's nearest friends ; of the surviving 
members of his family and his family-connections ; 
of the men still living who knew him and his parents 
in Kentucky ; of his schoolfellows, neighbors, and 
acquaintances in Indiana ; of the better part of the 
whole population of New Salem ; of his associates 
and relatives at Springfield ; and of lawyers, judges, 
politicians, and statesmen everywhere, who had any- 
thing of interest or moment to relate. They were 
collected at vast expense of time, labor, and money, 
involving the employment of many agents, long 
journeys, tedious examinations, and voluminous 
correspondence. Upon the value of these materials 
it would be impossible to place an estimate. That 
I have used them conscientiously and justly is the 
only merit to which I lay claim." 

Lamon's evidence concerning Lincoln's unbelief is 
complete and unanswerable. He did not present it 
because he was himself an unbeliever and wished to 
support his views with the prestige of Lincoln's 


great name. While the Freethinker regards Lin- 
coln's rejection of Christianity as in the highest 
degree meritorious a proof of his strong logical 
acumen, his sterling common sense, and his broad 
humanity Lam on considered it a grave defect in 
his character. He states the fact because it is a fact, 
and because the purpose of his work is to disclose 
and not conceal the facts of Lincoln's life. If he 
devotes considerable space to the subject, and ex- 
hibits a special earnestness in its presentation, the 
misrepresentations of Lincoln's Christian biogra- 
phers have furnished a reasonable pretext for it. 

In the pages immediately following will be given 
the individual testimony of Colonel Lamon : 

"Any analysis of Mr. Lincoln's character would 
be defective that did not include his religious opin- 
ions. On such matters he thought deeply, and his 

opinions were positive. But perhaps no phase of 
his character has been more persistently misrepre- 
sented and variously misunderstood, than this of his 
religious belief. Not that the conclusive testimony 
of many of his intimate associates relative to his fre- 
quent expressions on such subjects has ever been 
wanting; but his great prominence in the world's 
history, and his identification with some of the 
great questions of our time, which, by their moral 
import, were held to be eminently religious in their 
character, have led many good people to trace in his 


motives and actions similar convictions to those held 
by themselves. His extremely general expressions 
of religious faith called forth by the grave exigen- 
cies of his public life, or indulged in on occasions of 
private condolence, have too often been distorted 
out of relation to their real significance or meaning 
to suit the opinions or tickle the fancies of individ- 
uals or parties. 

" Mr. Lincoln was never a member of any church, 
nor did he believe in the divinity of Christ, or the 
inspiration of the Scriptures in the sense understood 
by evangelical Christians " (Life of Lincoln, p. 486). 

Holland and other Christian biographers have 
represented Lincoln as a youth of extreme piety, 
whose constant companion was the Bible. The con- 
current testimony of the friends of his boyhood com- 
pels Colonel Lamon to affirm that the reverse of this 
is true that Lincoln, at an early age, was noted for 
his skepticism. He says : 

" When a boy, he showed no sign of that piety 
which his many biographers ascribe to his manhood. 
. . When he went to church at all, he went to 
mock, and came away to mimic" (Ibid, pp. 486, 


" At an early age he began to attend the ' preach- 

ings roundabout, but principally at the Pigeon 
Creek church, with a view to catching whatever 
might be ludicrous in the preacher's air or matter, 


and making it the subject of mimicry as soon as he 
could collect an audience of idle boys and men to 
hear him. A pious stranger, passing that way on a 
Sunday morning, was invited to preach for the 
Pigeon Creek congregation ; but he banged the 
boards of the old pulpit, and bellowed and groaned 
so wonderfully, that Abe could hardly contain his 
mirth. This memorable sermon was a great favor- 
ite with him ; and he frequently reproduced it with 
nasal tones, rolling eyes, and all manner of droll 
aggravations, to the great delight of Nat Grigsby 
and the wild fellows whom Nat was able to assem- 
ble " (Ib., p. 55). 

" His chronicles were many, and on a great variety 
of subjects. They were written, as his early ad- 
mirers love to tell us, ' in the Scriptural style ;' but 
those we have betray a very limited acquaintance 
with the model " (Ib., p. 63). 

Of his Freethought reading and theological inves- 
tigations at New Salem, and his book on Infidelity, 
Lamon says : 

" When he came to New Salem, he consorted with 
Freethinkers, joined with them in deriding the gos- 
pel history of Jesus, read Volney and Paine, and then 
wrote a deliberate and labored essay, wherein he 
reached conclusions similar to theirs. The essay 
was burnt, but he never denied or regretted its 
composition. On the contrary, he made it the sub- 


ject of free and frequent conversations with his 
friends at Springfield, and stated, with much par- 
ticularity and precision, the origin, arguments, and 
objects of the work " (Ib., p. 487). 

" The community in which he lived was pre- 
eminently a community of Freethinkers in matters 
of religion ; and it was then ro secret, nor has it 
been a secret since, that Mr. Lincoln agreed with 
the majority of his associates in denying to the Bible 
the authority of divine revelation. It was his honest 
belief, a belief which it was no reproach to hold at 
New Salem, Anno Domini 1834, and one which he 
never thought of concealing. It was no distinction, 
either good or bad, no honor, and no shame. But 
be had made himself thoroughly familiar with the 
writings of Paine and Yolney the ' Ruins' by the 
one, and * The Age of Reason ' by the other. His 
mind was full of the subject, and lie felt an itching 
to write. He did write, and the result was a little 
book. It was probably merely an extended essay,- 
but it is ambitiously spoken of as * a book ' by him- 
self and by the persons who were made acquainted 
with its contents. In this work he intended to 

' First, that the Bible was not God's revelation; 

Secondlv, that Jesus was not the son of God.' 

"' No leaf of this little volume has survived. Mr. 
Lincoln carried it in manuscript to the store of Mr. 


Samuel Hill, where it was read and discussed. 
Hill was himself an unbeliever, but his son consid- 
ered his book * infamous.' It is more than probable 
that Hill, being a warm personal friend of Lincoln, 
feared that the publication of the essay would some 
day interfere with the political advancement of hi? 
favorite. At all events, he snatched it out of his 
hand, and thrust it into the fire, from which not a 
shred escaped " (Ib., pp. 157, 158). 

Colonel Lamon is confident that while Lincoln 
finally ceased to openly promulgate his Freethought 
opinions, he never abandoned them. He says : 

" As he grew older, he grew more cautious ; and 
as his New Salem associates, and the aggressive 
Deists with whom he originally united at Spring- 
field, gradually dispersed, or fell away from his side, 
he appreciated more and more keenly the violence 
and extent of the religious prejudices which freedom 
in discussion from his standpoint would be sure to 
arouse against him. He saw the immense and 
augmenting power of the churches, and in times past 
had practically felt it. The imputation of Infidelity 
had seriously injured him in several of his earlier 
political contests ; and, sobered by age and expe- 
rience, he was resolved that that same imputation 
should injure him no more. Aspiring to lead relig- 
ious communities, he foresaw that he must not 
appear as an enemy within their gates ; aspiring to 


public honors under the auspices of a political 
party which persistently summoned religious people 
to assist in the extirpation of that which is denounced 
as the ' nation's sin,' he foresaw that he could not 
ask their suffrages whilst aspersing their faith. He 
perceived no reason for changing his convictions, 
but he did perceive many good and cogent reasons 
for not making them public '" (Ib., pp. 497, 498). 

" But he never told anyone that he accepted Jesus 
as the Christ, or performed a single one of the acts 
which necessarily follow upon such a conviction. 
At Springfield and at Washington he was beset on 
the one hand by political priests, and on the other 
by honest and prayerful Christians. He despised 
the former, respected the latter, and had use for 
both. He said with characteristic irreverence that 
he would not undertake to ' run the churches by 
military authority ;' but he was, nevertheless, alive 
to the importance of letting the churches ' run ' 
themselves in the interest of his party. Indefinite 
expressions about ' Divine Providence,' the ' Justice 
of God,' ' the favor of the Most High,' were easy, 
and not inconsistent with his religious notions. In 
this, accordingly, Jie indulged freely ; but never in 
all that time did he let fall from his lips or his pen 
an expression which remote!}' implied the slightest 
faith in Jesus as the son of God and the Savior of 
men" (Ib., p. 502). 


Lamon was Lincoln's intimate and trusted friend 
at Washington, and had he changed his belief, his 
biographer, as well as Noah Brooks and the Illinois 
clergyman, would have been in possession of the 

In 1851 Lincoln wrote a letter of consolation to 
his dying father, in which he counseled him to 
" confide in our great arid good and merciful Maker." 
This letter was given to the public by Mr. Herndon, 
and has been cited by the orthodox to prove that 
Lincoln was a believer. Adverting to this letter 
Lamon says : 

" If ever there was a moment when Mr. Lincoln 
might have been expected to express his faith in the 
atonement, his trust in the merits of a living 
Redeemer, it was when he undertook to send a com- 
posing and comforting message to a dying man. 
. . . But he omitted it wholly. He did not even 
mention the name of Jesus, or intimate the most 
distant suspicion of the existence of a Christ " 
(Ibid., p. 497). 

Lincoln's mind was not entirely free from super- 
stition, but though born and reared in Christendom, 
the superstitious element in his nature was not 
essentially Christian. His fatalistic ideas, so char- 
acteristic of the faith of Islam, have already been 
mentioned by Mr. Herndon, and are thus referred to 
by Colonel Lamon : 


" Mr. Lincoln was by no means free from a kind 
of belief in the supernatural. . . . He lived 
constantly in the serious conviction that he was him- 
self tlie subject of a special decree, made by some 
unknown and mysterious power, for which he had no 
name " (Ibid., p. 503). 

" His mind was filled with gloomy forebodings 
and strong apprehensions of impending evil, mingled 
with extravagant visions of personal grandeur and 
power. His imagination painted a scene just be- 
yond the veil of the immediate future, gilded with 
glory yet tarnished with blood. It was his * des- 
tiny ' splendid but dreadful, fascinating but 
terrible. His case bore little resemblance to 
those of religious enthusiasts like Bunyan, 
Cowper, and others. His was more like the de- 
lusion of the fatalist conscious of his star" (Ibid,, 
p. 475). 

When Lamon's work appeared, Holland, backed by 
the Christian element generally, fell upon it like a 
savage and sought, as far as possible, to suppress it. 
Lamon had committed an unpardonable offense. He 
had declared to the world that Lincoln had died a 
disbeliever, and, what was worse, he had proved it. 
Holland's attack was made in an eight-column 
review of Lamon's " Life," which was published in 
Bcribner's Monthly, for August, 1872. In order to give 
an air of candor and judicial fairness to his veno- 


mous criticisms, lie opens with this flattering recogni- 
tion of its merits : 

" It is not difficult to see how Colonel Lamon, who 
during Mr. Lincoln's Presidency held an office in the 
District of Columbia, which must have brought him 
into somewhat frequent intercourse with the Presi- 
dent, and who, indeed, had come with him from 
Springfield to the Capital, should feel that there 
rested on him a certain biographical duty. And 
certainly he was in possession of a mass of material 
so voluminous, so original, and so fresh that in this 
respect at least his fitness for the work was remark- 
ably complete. Moreover, Mr. W. H. Herndon, who 
was Mr. Lincoln's partner in the practice of the law at 
Springfield, and was, of course, closely intimate with 
his partner in a business way, . . . added to 
Colonel Lamon's material the valuable documents 
which he had himself collected, and the memoranda 
which, with painstaking and lawyer-like ability, he 
had recorded from the oral testimony of living wit- 

" As far as the story of Mr. Lincoln's childhood 
and early life is concerned, down to the time when 
his political life began, it has never been told so 
fully, with such spirit and zest, and with such evi- 
dent accuracy, as by Colonel Lamon." 

Nearly the entire review is devoted to a denuncia- 
tion jf Lamon's exposition of Lincoln's religious 


opinions. He repeatedly pronounces this " an out- 
rage on decency," and characterizes Lincoln's Free- 
thought companions as " heathen," " barbarians," 
and " savages." The review concludes as follows : 

" The violent and reckless prejudice, and the utter 
want of delicacy and even of decency by which the 

book is characterized, in such instances as this, will 

more than counterbalance the value of its new ma- 
terial, its fresh and vigorous pictures of Western 
life and manners, and its familiar knowledge of the 
* inside politics ' of Mr. Lincoln's administration, 
and will even make its publication (by the famous 
publishers whose imprint imparts to it a prestige 
and authority which its authorship would fail to 
give) something like a national misfortune. In some 
quarters it will be readily received as the standard 
life of the good President. It is all the more desir- 
able that the criticism upon it should be prompt 
and unsparing." 

Christianity must have the support of Lincoln's 
great name. To secure it Holland is willing to mis- 
represent the honest convictions of Lincoln's life- 
time, to traduce the characters of his dearest friends, 
and to rob a brother author and a publisher of their 
just reward. 

Lamon states that during the last years of Lin- 
coln's life he ceased to proclaim his Infidel opinions 
because they were unpopular. Eeferring to this 


statement, Holland says : " The eagerness with 
which this volume strives to cover Mr. Lincoln's 
memory with an imputation so detestable is one of 
the most pitiable exhibitions which we have lately 

This outburst of righteous indignation, coming 
from the source it does, is peculiarly refreshing. 
To appreciate it, we have only to open Holland's 
work, and read such passages as the following : " I 
am obliged to appear different to them." " It was 
one of the peculiarities of Mr. Lincoln to hide these 
religious [Christian] experiences from the eyes of 
the world." " Who had never in their whole lives 
heard from his lips one word of all these religious 
convictions and experiences." " They [his friends] 
did not regard him as a religious man." " All this 
department of his life he had kept carefully hidden 
from them." " There was much of his conduct that 
was simply a cover to these thoughts an effort to 
conceal them " (Holland's Life of Lincoln, pp. 239, 

Consummate hypocrisy in a Christian is all right 
with this moralist ; but for a Freethinker to with- 
hold his views from an intolerant religious world is 
a detestable crime. 

As a biographer of Lincoln, Holland possessed 
many advantages over Lamon. His work was writ- 
ten and published immediately after the awful trag- 


edy, when almost the entire reading public was 
deeply interested in everything that pertained to 
Lincoln's life. So far as Lincoln's religious views 
are concerned, he advocated the popular side of the 
question ; for while those outside of the church 
cared but little about the matter, the church desired 
the influence of his great name, and was ready to 
reward those who assisted her in obtaining it. Hol- 
land, too, had an established reputation as an author 
had nearly as large a class of readers as any 

writer in this country. His name alone was suffi- 


cient to guarantee a large circulation to any book he 
might produce. Lamon, on the other hand, pos- 
sessed but a single advantage over his rival, that of 
having the truth on his side. And while " truth is 
mighty," and will in the end prevail, yet how often 
is it " crushed to earth " and for the time obscured. 


In view of all this, it is not strange that the public 
should be so slow to reject the fictions of Holland 
and accept the facts of Lamon. 

That Lamon's " Life of Lincoln " is wholly unde- 
serving of adverse criticism, is not claimed. He 
has, perhaps, given undue prominence to some 
matters connected with Lincoln's private affairs 
which might with propriety have been consigned to 
oblivion. A larger manifestation of charity, too, for 
the imperfections of those with whom Lincoln 
mingled, especially in the humbler walks of life, 


would not have detracted from its merit. And yet, 
those who desire to know Lincoln as he really was, 
should read Lamon rather than Holland. In 
Lamon's work, Lincoln's character is a rugged oak, 
towering above its fellows and clothed in nature's 
livery ; in Holland's work, it is a dead tree with the 
bark taken off, the knots planed down, and 

In the New York World appeared the following 
just estimate of these two biographies : 

" Mr. Ward H. Lamon is the author of one * Life of 
Lincoln,' and Dr. J. G. Holland is the author of an- 
other. Mr. Lamou was the intimate personal and 
political friend of Mr. Lincoln, trusting and trusted, 
from the time of their joint practice in the Illinois 
Quarter Sessions to the moment of Mr. Lincoln's 
death at Washington. Dr. Holland was nothing 
to Mr. Lincoln neither known nor knowing. Dr, 
Holland rushed his 'Life* from the press before 
the disfigured corpse was fairly out of sight, while 
the public mind lingered with horror over the details 
of the tragedy, and, excited by morbid curiosity, 
was willing to pay for its gratification. Mr. Lamon 
waited many years, until all adventitious interest 
had subsided, and then with incredible labor and 
pains, produced a volume founded upon materials 
which for their fulness, variety, and seeming authen- 
ticity are unrivaled in the history of biographies. 


Dr. Holland's single volume professed to cover the 
whole of Mr. Lincoln's career. Mr. Lamon's single 
volume was modestly confined to a part of it. Dr. 
Holland's was an easy, graceful, off-hand perform- 
ance, having but the one slight demerit of being in 
all essential particulars untrue from beginning to 
end. Mr. Lamon's was a labored, cautious, and 
carefully verified narrative which seems to have 
been accepted by disinterested critics as entirely 

"Dr. Holland would probably be very much 
shocked if anybody should ask him to bear false 
witiiess in favor of his neighbor in a court of justice, 
but he takes up his pen to make a record which he 
hopes and intends shall endure forever, and in that 
record deliberately bears false witness in favor of a 
public man whom he happened to admire, with no 
kind of offense to his serene and ' cultured ' con- 
science. If this were all if Dr. Holland merely 
asserted his own right to compose and publish 
elaborate fictions ou historical subjects we might 
comfort ourselves with the reflection that such 
literature is likely to be as evanescent as it is dis- 
honest, and let him pass in silence. But this is not 
wL He maintains that it is everybody's duty to 
help him to deceive the public and to write down 
his more conscientious competitor. He turns up 
the nose of * culture ' and curls the lip of ' art ' at 



Mr. Lamou's homely narrative of facts, and gravely 
insists that all other noses and all other lips shall be 
turned up and curled because his are. He implores 
the public, which he insulted and gulled with his 
own book, to damn Mr. Lamon's, and be puts his 
request on the very ground that Mr. Larnon has 
stupidly gone and narrated undeniable truths, 
whereby he has demolished an empty shrine that 
was profitable to many, and broken a painted idol 
that might have served for a god. 

"The names of Holland and Lamon are not of 
themselves and by themselves illustrious ; but start- 
ing from the title-pages of the two Lives of Lincoln, 
and representing, as they do, the two schools of 
biography writers, the one stands for a principle and 
the other for the want of it." 






Testimony of Hon. John T. Stuart Testimony of Col. James H.Ma- 
theny Stuart's Disclaimer Mathetiy's Disclaimer Examination and 
Authorship of Disclaimers, Including the Edwards and Lewis Letters. 

BESIDES his own testimony concerning Lincoln's 


unbelief, Colonel Lamon cites the testimony of ten 
additional witnesses : Hon. Wm. H. Herndon, Hon. 
John T. Stuart, Col. James H. Mathenj, Dr. C. H. 
Bay, Wm. H. Hannah, Esq , Mr. Jas. W. Keys, Hon. 
Jesse W. Fell, Col. John G. Nicola}', Hon. David 
Davis and Mrs. Mary Lincoln. The testimony of 
Mr. Herndon having already been presented, the 
testimony of Mr. Stuart and Colonel Matheny will 
next be given. This testimony was procured by 
Mr. Herndon for the purpose of refuting the errone- 
ous statements of Dr. Holland. 

Hon. John T. Stuart, who was for a time a mem- 
ber of Congress from Illinois, was the first law 
partner of Lincoln. He savs : 


Lincoln went further against Christian beliefs 
ami doctrines and principles than any man I ever 


heard : he shocked me. I don't remember the 
exact line of his argument suppose it was against 
the inherent defects, so called, of the Bible, and on 
grounds of reason. Lincoln always denied that 
Jesus was the Christ of God denied that Jesus was 
the son of God, as understood and maintained by 
the Christian church. The Bev. Dr. Smith, who 
wrote a letter, tried to convert Lincoln from Infidel- 
ity so late as 1858, and couldn't do it " (Lamon's 
Life of Lincoln, p. 488). 

Col. James H. Matheny was one of Lincoln's most 
intimate friends, and was for many years his chief 
political manager. He testifies as follows : 

" I knew Mr. Lincoln as early as 1834-7; know he 
was an Infidel. He and W. D. Herndon used to talk 
Infidelity in the Clerk's office in this city, about the 
years 1837-40. Lincoln attacked the Bible and the 
New Testament on two grounds : first, from the in- 
herent or apparent contradictions under its lids ; 
second, from the grounds of reason. Sometimes he 
ridiculed the Bible and the New Testament, some- 
times seemed to scoff it, though I shall not use that 
word iu its full and literal sense. I never heard 
that Lincoln changed his views, though his personal 
and political friend from 1834 to 1860. Sometimes 
Lincoln bordered on Atheism. He went far that 
way and shocked me. I was then a young man, and 
believed what my good mother told me. Stuart and 


Lincoln's office was in what is called Hoffman's How, 
on North Fifth street, near the public square. It 
was in the same building as the Clerk's office, and 
on the same floor. Lincoln would come into the 
Clerk's office, where I and some young men Evan 
Butler, Newton Francis and others were writing or 
staying, and would bring the Bible with him ; would 
read a chapter, argue against it. Lincoln then had 
a smattering of geology, if I recollect it. Lincoln 
often, if not wholly, was an Atheist ; at least, bor- 
dered on it. Lincoln was enthusiastic in his Infidel- 
ity. As he grew older, he grew more discreet, didn't 
talk much before strangers about his religion ; but 
to friends, close and bosom ones, he was always 
open and avowed, fair and honest ; but to strangers, 
he held them off from policy. Lincoln used to quote 
Burns. Burns helped Lincoln to be an Infidel, as I 
think ; at least he found in Burns a like thinker 
and feeler. 

" From what I know of Mr. Lincoln and his views 
of Cliristianitv, and from what I know as honest, 

/ ' 

well-founded rumor ; from what I have heard his 
best friends say and regret for years ; from what he 
never denied when accused, and from what Lincoln 
has hinted and intimated, to say no more, he did 
write a little book on Infidelity, at or near New 
Salem, in Menard county, about the year 1834 or 
1835. I have stated these things to you often. 


Judge Logan, John T. Stuart, yourself, know what I 
know, and some of you more. 

" Mr. Herudon, you insist on knowing something 
which you know I possess, and got as a secret, and 
that is, about Lincoln's little book on Infidelity. 
Mr. Lincoln did tell me that he did tvrite a little book 
on Infidelity. This statement I have avoided hereto- 
fore ; but, as you strongly insist upon it probably 
to defend yourself against charges of misrepresenta- 
tions I give it to you as I got it from Lincoln's 
mouth " (Life of Lincoln, pp. 487, 488). 

The evidence of Stuart and Matheny, as recorded 
in Lamon's work, having been presented, it is now 
proper to state that this evidence has, in a measure, 
been repudiated by them. Dr. Eeed, in his lecture, 
produced letters from them disclaiming in part or 
modifying the statements imputed to them. Dr. 
Reed says : " I have been amazed to find that the 
principal persons whose testimony is given in this 
book to prove that their old friend lived and died 
an Infidel, never wrote a word of it, and never gave 
it as their opinion or allowed it to be published as 
covering their estimate of Mr. Lincoln's life and 
religious views." Alluding to Stuart's evidence, he 
says : " Mr. Lamon has attributed to Mr. Stuart 
testimony the most disparaging and damaging to 
Mr. Lincoln's character and opinions testimony 
which Mr. Stuart utterly repudiates, both as to 


language and sentiment." Kegarding Matheny's 
testimony, he says : " Mr. Matheny testifies that he 
never wrote a word of what is attributed to him ; 
that it is not a fair representation of either his lan- 
guage or his opinions, and that he never would 
have allowed such an article to be published as cov- 
ering his estimate of Mr. Lincoln's life and char- 

The following is the disclaimer of Mr. Stuart : 

" Springfield, Dec. 17th, 1872. 
" Eev. J. A. Eeed : 

" Dear Sir 

" My attention has been called to a statement in 
relation to the religious opinions of Mr. Lincoln, 
purporting to have been made by me, and published 
in Lamon's * Life of Lincoln.' The language of that 
statement is not mine ; it was not written by me, 
and I did not see it until it was in print. I was once 
interviewed on the subject of Mr. Lincoln's religious 
opinions, and doubtless said that Mr. Lincoln was 
in the earlier part of his life an Infidel. I could not 
have said that 'Dr. Smith tried to convert Lincoln 
from Infidelity so late as 1858, and couldn't do it.' 
In relation to that point I stated, in the same con- 
versation, some facts which are omitted in that 
statement, and which I will briefly repeat. That 
Eddie, a child of Mr. Lincoln, died in 1848 or 1849, 
and that he and his wife were in deep grief on the 


account. That Dr. Smith, then pastor of the First 
Presbyterian church of Springfield, at the suggestion 
of a lady friend of theirs, called upon Mr. and Mrs. 
Lincoln, and that first visit resulted in great 
intimacy and friendship between them, lasting till 
the death of Mr. Lincoln, and continuing with Mrs. 
Lincoln till the death of Dr. Smith. I stated that I 
had heard at the time that Dr. Smith and Mr. Lin- 
coln had much discussion in relation to the truth of 
the Christian religion, and that Dr. Smith had fur- 
nished Mr. Lincoln with books to read on that sub- 
ject, and among others one which had been written 
by himself, sometime previous, on Infidelity ; and 
that Dr. Smith claimed that after this investigation 
Mr. Lincoln had changed his opinions, and became 
a believer in the truth of the Christian religion ; 
that Mr. Lincoln and myself never conversed upon 
that subject, and I had no personal knowledge as to 
his alleged change of opinion. I stated, however, 
that it was certainly true that up to that time Mr. 
Lincoln had never regularly attended any place of 
religious worship, but that after that time he rented 
a pew in the First Presbyterian church, and with his 
family constantly attended the worship in that 
church until he went to Washington as President. 
This much I said at the time, and I can now add 
that the Hon. Ninian W. Edwards, the brother-in- 
law of Mr. Lincoln, has, within a few days, informed 


me that when Mr. Lincoln commenced attending the 
First Presbyterian church he admitted to him that 
his views had undergone the change claimed by Dr. 
Smith. I would further say that Dr. Smith was a 
man of great ability, and on theological and meta- 
physical subjects had few superiors and not many 
equals. Truthfulness was a prominent trait in Mr. 
Lincoln's character, and it would be impossible for 
any intimate friend of his to believe that he ever 
aimed to deceive, either by his words or his con- 

" Yours truly, 

" John T. Stuart." 

Col. Matheny's disclaimer is as follows : 

" Springfield, Dec. 16th, 1872. 

" Eev. J. A. Reed : 
" Dear Sir 

" The language attributed to me in Lamon's book 
is not from my pen. I did not write it, and it does 
not express my sentiments of Mr. Lincoln's entire 
life and character. It is a mere collection of say- 
ings gathered from private conversations that were 
only true of Mr. Lincoln's earlier life. I would not 
have allowed such an article to be printed over my 
signature as covering my opinion of Mr. Lincoln's 
life and religious sentiments. While I do believe 
Mr. Lincoln to have been an Infidel in his former 
life, when his mind was as yet unformed, and his 


associations principally with rough and skeptical 
men, yet I believe he was a very different man in 
later life, and that after associating with a different 
class of men and investigating the subject, he was a 
firm believer in the Christian religion. 
" Yours truly, 

" Jas. H. Matheny." 

This disclosure startles you, my dear reader. But 
be patient. I will show you that this apparently 
mortal thrust of Dr. Reed's was made, not with a 
lance, but with a boomerang. 

When Reed made his assault upon Lamon's wit- 
nesses, all stood firm but two two old Springfield 
politicians whose political aspirations had not yet 
become extinct John T. Stuart and James H. Math- 
eny. These men had been among the first to testify 
in regard to Lincoln's unbelief. His Christian 
biographers had misrepresented his religious views ; 
they believed that the fraud ought to be exposed, 
and they were ready and willing to aid in the work. 
Their testimony exhibits a frankness that is truly 
commendable. They knew that lying was a vice, 
but they did not know that truth-telling was a crime. 
They had yet to learn that the church tolerates 
murder more readily than the promulgation of a 
truth that is antagonistic to her creed. But this 
fact they were destined to learn. Lamon's work 
had scarcely been issued from the press before he 


was anathematized and his book proscribed. The 
merciless attack that had already been commenced 
upon Herndon portended danger to them. Nor 
had they long to wait. In December, 1872, they 
were approached by Reed and his coadjutors. They 
were informed that the idol which their ruthless 
iconoclasm had helped to break must be repaired. 
They were given to understand that if they repented 
of the part they had performed and recanted, 
peace would be their portion here and endless bliss 
hereafter ; but that if they did not, endless misery 
would begin on Jan. 1, A.D. 1873. 

The situation was critical. They did not like to 
tell the world that they had borne false witness 
against the dead, nor did they, any more than Gali- 
leo, wish to wear a martyr's crown. A compromise 
was finally effected. It was incidentally ascertained 
by Reed that their evidence as presented by Lamon 
was riot originally given in the shape of a letter or a 
written statement, but orally. A happy thought 
suggested itself one worthy of the unscrupulous 
theological pettifogger that he is. The thought was 
this : " Say to the public, or rather let me say it for 
you, that you did not icrite a word of the testimony 
attributed to you." Just as a witness in court might 
point to the stenographer's report of his testimony 
and say, " I did not write a word of that." 

In addition to this, Mr. Stuart, in endeavoring to 


explain away, as far as possible, the obnoxious char- 
acter of his testimony, declared that some things 
which he did say at the time his testimony was given 
had been omitted ; while something he did not say 
was inserted. They were both trivial matters, hardly 
worthy of notice, even if true, and having no especial 
bearing upon the case. But they served an admi- 
rable purpose in enabling Heed to say that the testi- 
mony adduced by Lamon was " abridged and dis- 

Stuart's disclaimer, then, divested of its mislead- 
ing verbiage, contains but two points. In the first 
place, he says : " I could not have said that * Dr. 
Smith tried to convert Lincoln from Infidelity so late 
as 1858, and couldn't do it.' This sentence, like 
everything else in these disclaimers, is cunningly 
worded and intended to deceive. One would 
naturally suppose the idea he intends to convey is 
that he never declared that Dr. Smith tried to con- 
vert Lincoln and couldn't do it. This, it has been 
ascertained, is not his meaning. What he means is 
this : " I could not have said that ' Dr. Smith tried 
to convert Lincoln from Infidelity, so late as 1858, 
and couldn't do it.' His denial is a mere quibble 
about a date. He did undoubtedly say just what he 
is reported to have said. But admitting a doubt, and 
giving him the benefit of this doubt, by throwing out 
the disputed date, the passage is not less damaging 


than it was before : " Dr. Smith tried to convert 
Lincoln from Infidelity, and couldn't do it." But 
let us omit the entire sentence, and the testimony of 
Mr. Stuart that remains, about which there is no 
dispute, that portion of his testimony which he ad- 
mits to be correct is as follows : 

"Lincoln went further against Christian beliefs 
and doctrines and principles than any man I ever 
heard ; he shocked me. I don't remember the 
exact line of his argument ; suppose it was against 
the inherent defects, so called, of the Bible, and 
on grounds of reason. Lincoln always denied that 
Jesus was the Christ of God denied that Jesus 
was the Son of God, as understood and maintained 
by the Christian church." 

In the second place, Mr. Stuart complains that 
the rumors concerning Dr. Smith's attempted con- 
version of Lincoln which he had mentioned to Mr. 
Herndon at the time of giving his testimony, were 
omitted. They were, and very properly, too. Mr. 
Stuart, or any other good lawyer, would have omit- 
ted them. Mr. Herndon desired him to testify 
about what he knew, and not about what lie had 
heard, especially as he was going to headquarters in 
regard to these rumors. He wrote to Dr. Smith 
himself about them, received his testimony, and 
gave it to the public. 

Stuart affects to believe that this story, which 


Ninian Edwards is dragged around by Reed to 
verify, may possibly have been true. But in the 
same sentence, he refutes this idea, and refutes the 
claim itself, by saying: "I had no personal knowl- 
edge as to his alleged change of opinion." Stuart 

was a familv connection of Lincoln, and if Lincoln 


had been converted, he, as well as every other per- 
son in Springfield, would have known it. 

He states that Dr. Smith's first visit to Lincoln 
was " at the suggestion of a lady friend." To have 
avoided another glaring contradiction in the evidence 
of his witnesses, Reed should have had Major Stuart 
state that this "lady friend " was Thomas Lewis. 
As it is, the account given by Stuart of Dr. Smith's 
first visit and acquaintance with Lincoln is entirely 
at variance with the account given by Mr. Lewis in 
his letter, quoted in chapter I. 

Mr. Stuart evidently entertained no very kind 
opinion of Colonel Lamon's work, and this made 
him all the more disposed to accede to Reed's de- 
mands. His position on the slavery question, for a 
time, was one which, in the light of subsequent 
events, he had no reason to be proud of, and Lamon 
in narrating the acts of Lincoln's life found it neces- 
sary frequently to refer to this. Such passages as 
the following were calculated not only to make him 
offended at Lamon, but jealous of Herndon : " John 
T. Stuart was keeping his eye on Lincoln, with the 


view of keeping him on his side -the totally dead 
conservative side." " Mr. Lincoln was beset by 
warm friends and by old coadjutors, and besought 
to pause in his anti-slavery course while there was 
vet time. Among these there was none more earnest 
or persuasive than John T. Stuart, who was but the 
type of a class. . . . But Mr. Herndon was more 
than a match for the full array against him. An 
earnest man, instant in season and out of season, he 
spoke with the eloquence of apparent truth and of 
real personal love " (Life of Lincoln, pp. 374, 352). 

Colonel Matheny was not prepared to deny the 
correctness of a single statement in his testimony, 
but was forced to modify its bearing as a whole. He 
was made to say : " It does not express my senti- 
ments of Mr. Lincoln's entire life and character." 
Now, anyone who reads his evidence cannot fail to 
observe that he did intend to cover Lincoln's entire 
life and character. There is not in it the slightest 
intimation that he referred merely to a part of his 
life. Indeed, there is one statement in his evidence 
which utterly precludes such an assumption. He 
expressly says : " I never heard that Lincoln 
changed his views, though his personal and political 
friend from 1834 to 1860." But Heed must have a 
sufficient portion of his life reserved in which to in- 
ject the story of his alleged conversion; and so 
Matheny's offense was condoned on the condition 



that be retain the earlier part of Lincoln's life for 
his testimony to rest upon, and concede the remain- 
der to Eeed for " The Later Life and Religious 
Sentiments of Lincoln." This division of Lincoln's 
life is quite indefinite, but Reed would have us be- 
lieve that Colonel Matheny's evidence relates wholly 
to that portion of his life anterior to 1848, when Dr. 
Smith began the task of Christianizing him, 
Matheny's disclaimer is dated Dec. 16, 1872. On 
Dec. 9, 1873, he made the following explanation, 
which was published in a Springfield paper : 

"What I mean, in my Reed letter, by Mr. Lincoln's 
earlier life, is his whole life and history in Illinois. 
In Illinois, and up to the time he left for Washing- 
ton, he was, as I understand it, a confirmed Infidel. 
What I mean by Mr. Lincoln's later life, is his 
Washington life, where he associated with religious 
people, when and where I believe he thought he 
became a Christian. I told Mr. Reed all this just 
before signing the letter spoken of. I knew nothing 
of Mr. Lincoln's investigation into the subject of 

He says that his evidence " is a mere collection of 
sayings gathered from private conversations." It 
is doubtless true that he had many private conversa- 
tions with Mr. Herndon on this subject ; but his 
published testimony was all given at one sitting, and 
more, he signed that testimony. Every word attributed 


to him in Lainon's work, and repeated in this chap- 
ter, originally appeared above his signature. 

The concluding words of his disclaimer are as fol- 
lows : 

" While I do believe Mr. Lincoln to have been an 
Infidel in his former life, when his mind was as yet 
unformed, and his associations principally with 
rough and skeptical men, yet I believe he was a very 
different man in later life ; and that after associating 
with a different class of men, and investigating the 
subject, he was a firm believer in the Christian 

These words, as modified by the following, con- 
stitute a most remarkable statement : 

"In Illinois, and up to the time he left for Wash- 
ington, he was, as I understand it, a confirmed In- 
fidel. What I mean by Mr, Lincoln's later life, is 
his Washington life, where he associated with re- 
ligious people." 

Colonel Matheny confines Lincoln's Infidelity to 
that portion of his life " when his mind was as yet 
unformed," and affirms that this portion comprised 
all the years preceding his removal to Washington 
in 1861. Thus during the first fifty-two years of 
Lincoln's life, " his mind was as yet unformed." 
His enviable reputation as one of the foremost law- 
yers of Illinois was achieved while " his mind was 
as yet unformed ;" when his friends sent him to Con- 


gress " his mind was as yet unformed;" when he made 
his Bloomington speech, " his mind was as yet 
unformed ;" when he delivered his famous Spring- 
field speech, " his mind was as yet unformed ;" 
when he conducted his masterly debates with 
Stephen A. Douglas, " his mind was as yet un- 
formed ;" when lie prepared and delivered that 
model of political addresses, the Cooper In- 
stitute address, " his mind was as yet unformed ;" 
when at the Chicago Convention he outstripped 
in the race for Presidential nominee such emi- 
nent leaders as Seward and Chase, " his mind 
was as yet unformed ;" when he was elected Chief 


Magistrate of this great nation, " his mind was as 
yet unformed." 

It was only by leaving Illinois and going to Wash- 
ington that he was thrown into religious society. 
Washington politicians are noted for their piety, 
you know. According to Matheny et al., New Salem 
was a second Sodom, Springfield a second Gomorrah 
and Washington a sort of New Jerusalem, inhabited 
chiefly by saints 

Neither in Matheny 's letter, nor in his interpreta- 
tion of this letter, is there a word to indicate that he 
recognized the fact that Lincoln went to Washington 
to assume the office and perform the duties of Presi- 
dent. On the contrary, the whole tenor of his re- 
marks is to the effect that he believed the people 


sent him there on account of his wickedness, and 
while " his mind was as yet unformed," to attend a 
reform school, and that subsequently he entered a 
theological seminary, and there died. 

The most amusing feature of Matheny's letter 
is that he unwittingly certifies that his own character 
was not good. He declares that Lincoln was an 
Infidel because his associations were " with rough 
and skeptical men ;" but that after removing to 
Washington and " associating with a different class 
of men ' he became a Christian. Now, it is well 
known that one of the most conspicuous of his 
"rough and skeptical' 1 associates in Illinois was 
James H. Matheny. 

Colonel Matheny, in his explanatory remarks, 
says : " I believe he thought he became a Christian ;" 
and in almost the next breath says, " I knew nothing 
of Mr. Lincoln's investigation into the subject of 
Christianity." Can anything be more unreasonable 
than this ? Colonel Matheny knowing that Lincoln 
was a confirmed Infidel an Infidel when he went to 
Washington knowing nothing about his having 
afterward investigated Christianity knowing that 
he had no time for such an investigation, and yet 
believing that Lincoln thought he became a Chris- 
tian ! Why did he not mention this when he gave 
his testimony ? The fact is, he did not believe that 
Lincoln became a Christian ; but with an orthodox 


club raised above his head, he found it very con- 
venient to profess to believe it. 

As Mr. Reed has endeavored to prove that Lamou 
and H&yndon did not faithfully report the evidence 
of Stuart and Matheny, it is but just that Mr. Hern- 
don, who took down their testimony, be permitted to 
speak in his own defense. In his Springfield lecture, 
delivered in Major Stuart's town, if not in his pres- 
ence, referring to Stuart's testimony, he says : 

" Mr. Stuart did not write the note and no one 
ever said he did. "What is there stated was the sub- 
stance of a conversation between Mr. Stuart and my- 
self about Mr. Lincoln's religion. I took down in a 
note in his office and in his presence his words and 
ideas as I did in other cases. The conversation 
spoken of took place in Mr. Stuart's office, and in the 
east room. Mr. Stuart does not deny that the note 
is substantially correct. He simply says he could 
not have said that Dr. Smith tried to convert Mr. 
Lincoln, and couldn't do it. I well remember that 
he did use this language. It seemed to do him good 
to say it. ... It seems that Mr. Stuart had 
heard that Mr. Lincoln and Dr. Smith had much 
discussion about Christianity, but he failed to hear 
of Mr. Lincoln's conversion, or anything like it, and 
well might he say, as Jte did, that ' Dr. Smith tried 
to convert Mr. Lincoln, but couldn't do it.' " 

Any charitably disposed person, knowing the gen- 


eral good character of both men, instead of crying 
" Fraud !" as Reed has done, will readily conclude 
that Mr. Herndon was mistaken, or that Mr. Stuart 
had forgotten just what he did say, and is it not 
more reasonable to suppose that the latter gentle- 
man, in the lapse of six years, should have forgotten 
some things he said, than that Mr. Herndon, who 
recorded them the moment they were uttered, should 
be mistaken ? 

Alluding to Colonel Matheny's evidence, in the 
same lecture, Mr. Herndon says : 

" The next gentleman introduced by Mr. Heed is 
Col. James H. Matheny.. He is made to say, in a 
letter addressed to Mr. Reed, that he did not write 
the statement in Lamon's 'Life of Lincoln.' I do not 
claim that he did. I wrote it in the court house 
this hall in Mr. Matheny's presence, and at his 
dictation. I read it over to him and he approved it. 
I wrote it all at once as he spoke it to rne ; it is not 
made up of scraps ' a mere collection of sayings 
gathered from private conversations, that were only 
true of Mr. Lincoln's earlier life.' I say that this 
statement was written all at one time and place, and 
not at different times and places. Let any critic, 
any man of common sense, read it and he will say : 
This was all written at once.' I appeal to the 
manner the close connection of words and ideas in 
which it runs word with word, sentence with sen- 


tence, and idea with idea, for the proof that it was 
made at one sitting. Mr. Matheny has often told 
me that Mr. Lincoln was an Infidel. He admits this 
in his letter to Mr. Reed. He never intimated in 
that or any other conversation with me that he 
believed that Mr. Lincoln in his later life became a 

In a letter dated Sept. 14, 1887, Mr. Herndon 
writes : 

" I acted in this matter honestly, and I will always 
abide by my notes taken down at the time. I was 
cautious very careful of what I did, because I 
knew that the church would damn me and prove me 
false if it could. I stood on the exactness of truth 

I have thus far assumed that Stuart and Matheny 
really wrote the letters of disclaimer addressed to 
Reed. Mr. Heed states that he is " amazed to find " 
that they did not write the statements attributed to 
them by Lamon. The reader is by this time suffi- 
ciently familiar with this reverend gentleman's 
methods that he will not be "amazed to find" that 
Stuart and Matheny did not write these disclaimers. 
I now affirm that James H. Matheny did not write a 
word of the letter purporting to have been written 
by him. It was Written by the Rev. J. A. Heed ! We 
have not the expressed declaration of Mr. Stuart 
that this is true of the letter imputed to him, but 


there is other evidence which makes it clearly ap- 
parent that this letter was also written by Mr. Reed. 

Nor is this all. I shall now endeavor to show 
that the greater part of the evidence presented by 
Eeed, in his lecture, was composed and written by 
himself. Let us take the four letters credited 
respectively to Edwards, Lewis, Stuart, and Matheny. 
I shall attempt to demonstrate the common origin of 
these letters, first, by their form ; secondly, by the 
language of their contents. 

The different forms employed in epistolary corre- 
spondence are numerous, far more numerous than 
generally supposed. To illustrate : four hundred 
letters, written by as many different persons, and all 
addressed to the same person, were, without examina- 
tion, divided into one hundred parcels of four letters 
each. They were then examined in regard to the 
form employed by the writer. The heading, the ad- 
dress, the introduction, and the subscription were 
noted no attention being paid to the body of the 
letter, or the signature. In not one of these one 
hundred parcels were found four letters having the 
same form. The heading of these letters exhibited 
nine different forms ; the address, fourteen ; the 
introduction, eight ; and the subscription, eleven. 

Again, nearly every writer employs certain idioms 
of language that are peculiar to him, and which 
reveal his identity, even though he tries to conceal it. 


Let us now institute a brief analysis of the four 
letters under consideration. Errors will be noticed, 
not for the purpose of reflecting upon the literary 
attainments of the writer, but solely with a view of 
discovering his identity. These are mostly of a 
trivial character, confined to marks of punctuation, 
etc.; and it is a recognized fact that a majority of 
educated persons, including many professional 
writers, are more or less deficient in the art of 
punctuation. In proof of the common authorship of 
these four letters, the following reasons are sub- 
mitted : 

1. In all of them we recognize a stiff formality a 
studied effort to conform to one ideal standard. 

2. All of them were written at Springfield, 111., 
and all omit the name of the state. 

3. In each of them, the day of the month is fol- 
lowed by the suffix " th." This, if not wholly im- 
proper, is not common usage. Had these letters 
been written by the four persons to whom they are 
ascribed, at least three of them would have omit- 
ted it. 

4 In all, but one, the address is " Rev. J. A. 
Reed," and in the exception the writer merely sub- 
stitutes "Jas." for "J." 

5. In each of them the address is followed by a 
colon instead of a comma, the proper mark to use. 
Had they been written by four persons, it is possible 



that a part, or even all, would have made an error, 
but it is highly improbable that all would have 
made the same error. 

6. In these letters, the introductory words are 
uniformly " Dear Sir " the most common form of 
introduction, and the one that a writer, in drafting 
a letter addressed to himself, would most naturally 

7. In every instance, the introduction is followed 
by a dash instead of a colon a uniformity of error, 

8. In the subscription, the term, " Yours truly," 
is invariably used, except in the Lewis letter, which 
concludes with " Yours, etc." 

9. The Edwards letter and the Lewis letter begin 
with the same idea, expressed in nearly the same 
words. Edwards is made to say, " A short time after 
the Rev. Dr. Smith," etc.; and Lewis "Not long 
after Dr. Smith." 

10. Omitting the introductory sentence in the 
Stuart letter, which is merely the expansion of an 
idea used in writing the Matheny letter on the pre- 
ceding day, the Stuart and Matheny letters begin 
with the same idea. Stuart says : " The language 
of that statement is not mine ; it was not written by 
me." Matheny says : " The language attributed to 
me ... is not from my pen. I did not write 
it." Reed himself uses substantially the same Ian- 


guage that is ascribed to them. Had their state- 
ments, as published in Lamon's work, been forgeries, 
or grossly inaccurate, they might have used the 
language quoted above. Under the circumstances 
they would not have used it. Major Stuart and 
Colonel Matheny were lawyers, not pettifoggers. 

11. These prefatory sentences of Stuart and Ma- 
thenv both begin with the same words " the Ian- 


12. In both the Edwards and Lewis letters, refer- 
ence is made to a theological work which Dr. Smith 
is said to have written. The writer of neither letter 
is able to state the name of the book ; Dr. Reed is 
unable to state the name of it ; Dr. Smith himself 
does not mention the name of it ; but he does 
plainly state that it was a work on the Bible. For 
" the business he had on hand," however, it suited 
Reed's purpose better to give a semi-erroneous im- 
pression of its character, and so he affirms that it 
was a work on "the evidences of Christianity." 
Curiously enough, in the Edwards letter and again 
in the Lewis letter, the book is described as a work 
on " the evidences of Christianity." 

13. The Edwards letter reports Lincoln as saying : 
" I have been reading a work of Dr. Smith on ih? 
evidences of Christianity." The Lewis letter repre- 
sents him as saying that " He had seen and partially 
read a work of Dr. Smith on the evidences of Christian- 


ity" Here are ten consecutive words in the two 
letters identical. 

14 Mr. Beed, in his lecture, never once uses the 
word " Christianity," except as above noticed to de- 
scribe Dr. Smith's book ; he always uses the words 
" the Christian religion " employing this term no 
less than seven times. This usage is not common. 
An examination of various theological writings shows 
that " Christianity " is used twenty times where " the 
Christian religion " is used once. Yet in these letters 
the word " Christianity " is not to be found, except in 
the same sense as used by Dr. Reed, while " the Chris- 
tian religion ' occurs in each of the four letters. 

15. rt The truth of the Christian religion " is a 
favorite phrase with Reed, occurring three times in 
his lecture. This phrase also occurs three times in 
these letters once in the Edwards letter, and twice 
in the Stuart letter. 

16. Reed has much to say about Lincoln's " life 
and religious sentiments ;" in fact, his lecture is 
entitled, " The Later Life and Religious Sentiments 
of Abraham Lincoln." In the Matheny letter, too, 
we find "Mr. Lincoln's life and religious senti- 

17. The words " earlier " and " later " are fre- 
quently used by Reed in connection with Lincoln's 
life. The same words are used in the Stuart and 
Matheny letters, and in the same connection. 



18. The Stuart letter is, for the most part, de- 
voted to the narration of " some facts ' which Mr. 
Stuart is said to have presented to Mr. Herndon, 
beginning with this : " That Eddie, a child of Mr. 
Lincoln, died in 1848 or 1849," etc. Now, Mr. 
Stuart well knew that, during all this time, Mr. 
Herndon was the intimate associate of Lincoln and 
thoroughly familiar with every event in his history. 
The " facts " given in this letter are not such as Mr. 
Stuart would have communicated to Mr. Herndon, 
but they are such as Mr. Reed would naturally 
desire to place before the public. 

19. Nothing in Dr. Eeed's career has excited his 
vanity more than the fact that he was pastor of the 
First Presbyterian Church of Springfield the church 
which Lincoln once attended. Consequently, the 
" First Presbyterian Church ' is a conspicuous ob- 
ject in his lecture, and nowhere is it more conspic- 
uous than in these letters. In the Stuart letter it 
appears three times, and the writer never fails to 
state that it was the " First Presbyterian Church " 
the church of which Dr. Heed was pastor. 

20. According to the principle of accretion, if two 
articles or letters are written on the same subject, 
the second will usually be longer than the first. 
This is true of these letters. The Lewis letter, re- 
lating to Smith's reputed conversion of Lincoln, 
was written after the Edwards letter relative to the 


same subject, and is longer. The Stuart disclaimer, 
which is the longer of the two, was written after the 
Matheny disclaimer. 

From the foregoing, is it not clearly evident that 
these four letters were all written by the same per- 
son ? If so, then knowing that Dr. Reed wrote one 
of them, the Matheny letter, does it not necessarily 
follow that he wrote them all ? 

In the Gurley testimony, such expressions as " the 
Christian religion " and " the truth of the Christian 
religion," together with the Heed story concerning 
Lincoln's intention of making a profession of relig- 
ion, reveal the authorship of this testimony also. 







Dr. C. H. Ray Wm. II. Hannah, Esq. James W. Keys Hon. 
Jesse W. Fell Col. John G. Nicolay Hon. David Davis Mrs. Mary 
Lincoln Injustice to Mrs. Lincoln Answer to Reed's Pretended Ref- 
utation of the Testimony of Lamon's Witnesses. 

SEVEN of Lamon's witnesses Bay, Hannah, Keys, 
Fell, Nicolay, Davis, and Mrs. Lincoln remain to 
testify. The testimony of these witnesses will now 
be presented. 

DR. C. H. RAY. 

Dr. Bay, editor of the Chicago Tribune, a promi- 
nent figure in Illinois politics thirty years ago, and 
a personal friend and admirer of Lincoln, testifies as 
follows : 

"You knew Mr. Lincoln far better than I did, 
though I knew him well ; and you have served up 
his leading characteristics in a way that I should 
despair of doing, if I should try. I have only one 
thing to ask : that you do not give Calvinistic theol- 
ogy a chance to claim him as one of its saints and 
martyrs. He went to the Old School Church ; but, 


in spite of that outward assent to the horrible 
dogmas of the sect, I have reason from himself to 
know that his ' vital purity,' if that means belief in 
the impossible, was of a negative sort" (Lamon's 
Life of Lincoln, pp. 489, 490). 

Dr. Kay states that Lincoln held substantially the 
same theological opinions as those held by Theodore 


A leading member of the Bloomington bar, 
when Lincoln practiced there, was Wm. H. 
Hannah. He was an honest, truthful man, and 
knew Lincoln well. Concerning Lincoln's views 
on the doctrine of endless punishment, Mr. Han- 
nah says : 

" Since 1856 Mr. Lincoln told me that he was a 
kind of immortalist ; but that he never could bring 
himself to believe in eternal punishment ; that man 
lived but a little while here, .and that, if eternal 
punishment were man's doom, he should spend that 
little life in vigilant and ceaseless preparation by 
never-ending prayer " (Life of Lincoln, p. 489). 


Mr. Jas. W. Keys, an old and respected citizen of 
Springfield, who became acquainted with Lincoln 
soon after his removal there, and who had many con- 


versations with him on the subject of theology, 
says : 

" As to the Christian theory, that Christ is God, 
or equal to the Creator, he said that it had better 
be taken for granted ; for, by the test of reason, we 
might become Infidels on that subject, for evidence 
of Christ's divinity came to us in a somewhat doubt- 
ful shape " (Life of Lincoln, p. 490). 


Jesse W. Fell, who died at Bloomington in the 
spring of 1887, was one of the best known and most 
highly respected citizens of Illinois. He was Secre- 
tary of the Republican State Central Commitee dur- 
ing the memorable Lincoln-Douglas campaign, and 
was largely instrumental in bringing Lincoln forward 
as a candidate for the Presidency in 1860. It was 
for him that Lincoln wrote an autobiographical 
sketch of his life, which formed the basis of his cam- 
paign biographies, the fac-simile of which appears 
in Lamon's " Life of Lincoln," and in the " Lincoln 
Memorial Album." Mr. Fell was a Christian of the 
Unitarian denomination, and there were few men for 
whom Lincoln had a more profound respect. The 
following is his testimony : 

" Though everything relating to the character of 
this extraordinary personage is of interest, and 
should be fairly stated to the world, I enter upon the 


performance of this duty for so I regard it with 
some reluctance, arising from the fact that, in stating 
my convictions on the subject, I must necessarily 
place myself in opposition to quite a number who 
have written on this topic before me, and whose 
views largely pre-occupy the public mind. This 
latter fact, whilst contributing to my embarrassment 
on this subject, is, perhaps, the strongest reason, 
however, why the truth in this matter should be 
fully disclosed ; and I therefore yield to your request. 
If there were any traits of character that stood out 
in bold relief in the person of Mr. Lincoln, they 
were those of truth and candor. He was utterly in- 
capable of insincerity, or professing views on this 
or any other subject he did not entertain. 
Knowing such to be his true character, that insin- 
cerity, much more duplicity, were traits wholly 
foreign to his nature, many of his old friends were 
not a little surprised at finding, in some of the 
biographies of this great man, statements concerning 
his religious opinions so utterly at variance with his 
known sentiments. True, he may have changed or 
modified those sentiments after his removal from 
among us, though this is hardly reconcilable with 
the history of the man, and his entire devotion to 
public matters during his four years' residence at 
the national capital. It is possible, however, that 
this may be the proper solution of this conflict 01 


opinions ; or, it may be, that, with no intention on 
the part of anyone to mislead the public mind, those 
who have represented him as believing in the 
popular theological views of the times may have mis- 
apprehended him, as experience shows to be quite 
common where no special effort has been made to 
attain critical accuracy on a subject of this nature. 
This is the more probable from the well-known fact 
that Mr. Lincoln seldom communicated to anyone 
his views on this subject. But, be this as it may, I 
have no hesitation whatever in saying that, whilst 
he held many opinions in common with the great 
mass of Christian believers, he did not believe in 
what are regarded as the orthodox or evangelical 
views of Christianity. 

" On the innate depravity of man, the character 
and office of the great head of the church, the atone- 
ment, the infallibility of the written revelation, the 
performance of miracles, the nature and design of 
present and future rewards and punishments (as 
they are popularly called) and many other subjects, 
he held opinions utterly at variance with what are 
usually taught in the church. I should say that his 
expressed views on these and kindred topics were 
such as, in the estimation of most believers, would 
place him entirely outside the Christian pale. Yet, 
to my mind, such was not the true position, since his 
principles and practices and the spirit of his whole 


life were of the very kind we universally agree to 
call Christian ; and I think this conclusion is in no 
wise affected by the circumstance that he never at- 
tached himself to any religious society whatever. 

" His religious views were eminently practical, 
and are summed up, as I think, in these two proposi- 
tions : ' the fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood 
of man.' He fully believed in a superintending and 
overruling Providence that guides and controls the 
operations of the world, but maintained that law and 
order, and not their violation or suspension, are 
the appointed means by which this Providence is 

"I will not attempt any specification of either his 
belief or disbelief on various religious topics, as de- 
rived from conversations with him at different times 
during a considerable period; but, as conveying a 
general view of his religious or theological opinions, 
will state the following facts : Some eight or ten 
years prior to his death, in conversing with him on 
this subject, the writer took occasion to refer, in 
terms of approbation, to the sermons and writings 
generally of Dr. W. E. Charming ; and, finding he 
was considerably interested in the statement I made 
of the opinions held by that author, I proposed to 
present him a copy of Channing's entire works, 
which I soon after did. Subsequently, the contents 
f these volumes, together with the writings of 




Theodore Parker, furnished him, as he informed me, 
by his friend and law-partner, Mr. Herndon, became 
naturally the topics of conversation with us ; and 
though far from believing there was an entire har- 
mony of views on his part with either of those 
authors, yet they were generally much admired anil 
approved by him. 

" No religious views with him seemed to find anv 

CJ *j 

favor, except of the practical and rationalistic order ; 
and if, from my recollections on this subject, I was 
called upon to designate an author whose views most 
nearly represented Mr. Lincoln's on this subject, I 
would say that author was Theodore Parker. 

" As you have asked from me a candid statement 
of my recollections on this topic, I have thus briefly 
given them, with the hope that they may be of some 
service in rightl}* settling a question about which 
as I have good reason to believe the public mind 
has been greatly misled. Not doubting that they 
will accord, substantially, with your own recollec- 
tions, and that of his other intimate and confidential 
friends, and with the popular verdict after this mat- 
ter shall have been properly canvassed, I submit 
them " (Life of Lincoln, pp. 490-492). 

Mr. Fell's testimony is full and explicit. He 
affirms that Lincoln rejected nearly all the leading 
tenets of orthodox Christianity ; the inspiration of 
the Scriptures, the divinity of Christ, the innate de- 


pravity of man, the atonement, the performance of 
miracles, and future rewards and punishments. 
>; His expressed views on these and kindred topics," 
Mr. Fell says, " were such as, in the estimation of 
most believers, would place him entirely outside the 
Christian pale." Mr. Fell, himself, was not disposed 
to withhold from Lincoln the appellation of Chris- 
tian, but it was only because he stood upon the broad 
Liberal Christian, or rather non-Christian, platform 
which permitted him to welcome a Theist, like 
Parker ; a Pantheist, like Emerson ; or even an 
Agnostic, like Ingersoll. 


The next witness introduced by Lamon, is Col. 
John G. Nicolay, Lincoln's private secretary at the 
White House. Nicolay's relations with the President 
were more intimate than those of any other man. 
To quote the words of Lincoln's partner, " Mr. Lin- 
coln loved him and trusted him." His testimonv is 


among the most important that this controversy has 
elicited. It proves beyond the shadow of a doubt 
that all these stories concerning Lincoln's alleged 
conversation at Washington are false, that he did not 
change his belief, that he died as he had always 
lived a Freethinker. In a letter written Mav 27, 


1865, just six weeks after Lincoln's death, Colonel 
Nicolay says : 


" Mr. Lincoln did not, to my knowledge, in any way, 
change his religious ideas, opinions or beliefs, from 
the time he left Springfield till the day of his death. 
I do not know just what they were, never having 
heard him explain them in detail, but I am very sure 
he gave no outward indications of his mind having 
undergone any change in that regard while here' 
(Life of Lincoln, p. 492). 


One of the most important, and in some respects 
the most eminent witness summoned to testify in 
regard to this question, is the Hon. David Davis. In 
moral character he stood above reproach, in iiitel- 
lectual ability, almost without a peer. Every step in 
his career was marked by unswerving integrity and 
freedom from prejudice. His rulings and decisions 
in the lower courts of Illinois, and on the bench of 
the Supreme Court of the United States, commanded 
uniyersal respect. As a legislator, his love of truth 
and justice prevented him from being a political 
partisan. As United States Senator and Vice-Presi- 
dent of the United. States, the party that elected him 
could obtain his support for no measure that he 
deemed unjust. Referring to his acquaintance with 
Lincoln, Judge Davis says : " I enjoyed for over 
twenty years the personal friendship of Mr. Lincoln. 
We were admitted to the bar about the same time, 


and traveled for many years what is known in 
Illinois as the Eighth Judicial Circuit. ID 1848, 
when I first went on the bench, the circuit embraced 
fourteen counties, and Mr. Lincoln went with the 
court to every county." A large portion of this time 
they passed in each other's company. They often 
rode in the same vehicle, generally ate at the same 
table, and not infrequently slept together in the 
same bed. The closest intimacy existed between 
them as long as Lincoln lived, and when he died, 
Mr. Davis became his executor. Judge Davis would 
not intentionally have misrepresented the opinions 
of an enemy, much less the opinions of his dear dead 
friend. Briefly, yet clearly, he defines the theolog- 
ical views of Lincoln : 

" He had no faith, in the Christian sense of the 
term had faith in laws, principles, causes, and 
effects philosophically' 1 (Life of Lincoln, p. 489). 

Speaking of the many stories that had been circu- 
lated concerning Lincoln's religious belief, such as 
the Bateman and Vinton interviews, together with 
the various pious speeches he is reported to have 
made to religious committees and delegations that 
visited him, such as his reputed speech to the 
Negroes of Baltimore, Judge Davis says : 

" The idea that Lincoln talked to a stranger about 
his religion or religious views, or made such 
speeches, remarks, <fcc., about it as are published, is 



to me absurd. I knew the man so well. He was the 
most reticent, secretive man I ever saw, or expect to 
see " (Ibid). 


But one of Lamon's witnesses remains the wife of 
the martyred President. Her testimony ought of 
itself to put this matter at rest forever. Mrs. Lin- 
coln says : 

" Mr. Lincoln had no hope, and no faith, in the 
usual acceptation of those words' 1 (Life of Lincoln, 
p. 489). 

In addition to what Colonel Lamon has presented, 
Mrs. Lincoln also stated the following : 

" Mr. Lincoln's maxim and philosophy were, 
* What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can 
arrest the decree.' He never joined any church. He 
was a religious man always, I think, but was not a 
technical Christian' (Herndon's ''Religion of Lin- 
coln "). 

It may be charged that Mrs. Lincoln subsequently 
repudiated a portion of this testimony. In anticipa- 
tion of such a charge I will here state a few facts. 
This testimony was given by Mrs. Lincoln in 1865. 
When it was given, while her heart was pierced by 
the pangs of her great grief, her mind was sound. 
About Jan. 1, 1874. a brief article, purporting to 
come from her pen, appeared, in which the testimony 


attributed to her was in part denied. At the time 
this denial was written, Mrs. Lincoln had been for 
more than two years insane. The chief cause in de- 
throning her reason was the death of her universally 
beloved Tad (Thomas), which occurred on July 15, 
1871. Referring to this sad event, Mr. Arnold, one 
of the principal witnesses on the Christian side of 
this controversy, says : " From this time Mrs. Lin- 
coln, in the judgment of her most intimate friends, 
was never entirely responsible for her conduct ' 
(Life of Lincoln, p. 439). 

The only effect of this denial on the minds of those 
acquainted with the circumstances, was to excite a 
mingled feeling of pity and disgust pity for this 
unfortunate woman, and disgust for the contemptible 
methods of those who would take advantage of her 
demented condition and make her contradict the 
honest statements of her rational life. 

Before dismissing this witness, I wish to advert 
to a subject with which many of my readers are 
familiar. For years, both before and after Lincoln's 
death, the religious press of the country was contin- 
ually abusing Mrs. Lincoln. If a ball was held at the 
White House, she became at once the recipient of 
unlimited abuse. If Lincoln attended the theater, 
she was accused of having dragged him there against 
his will. It was armost uniformly asserted that he 
would not have gone to the theater on that fatal 


night bad it not been for her, and in not a few in- 
stances it was infamously hinted that she was cogni- 
zant of the plot to murder him. But even the Rev. 
Dr. Miner, who was acquainted with the facts, is 
willing to vindicate her from these imputations. He 
says : " It has been said that Mrs. Lincoln urged her 
husband to go to the theater against his will. This 
is not true. On the contrary, she tried to persuade 
him not to go." 

Lincoln's biographers have, for the most part, en- 
deavored to do his wife justice, and have rebuked the 
insults showered upon her. Alluding to President 
and Mrs. Lincoln, Mr. Herndon says: "All that I know 
ennobles both." Colonel Lamon savs : " Almost ever 



since Mr. Lincoln's death a portion of the press has 
never tired of heaping brutal reproaches upon his 
wife and widow, whilst a certain class of his friends 
thought they were honoring his memory by multi- 
plying outrages and indignities upon her at the very 
moment when she was broken by want and sorrow, 
defamed, defenseless, in the hands of thieves, and at 
the mercy of spies." Mr. Arnold says : " There is 
nothing in American history so unmanly, so devoid 
of every chivalric impulse as the treatment of this 
poor, broken-hearted woman." 

The evidence of Colonel Lamon's ten witnesses 
has now been presented. This evidence includes, in 
addition to the testimony of other intimate friends, 


the testimony of his wife ; the testimony of his first 
law partner, Hon. John T. Stuart ; the testimony of 
his last law partner, Hon. Wm. H. Herndon ; the tes- 
timony of his friend and political adviser, Col. James 
H. Matheny ; the testimony of his private secretary, 
Col. John G. Nicolay ; and the testimony of his life- 
long friend and executor after death, Judge David 
Davis. No one can read this evidence and then 
honestly affirm that Abraham Lincoln was a Chris- 
tian. This is the evidence, the perusal of which so 
thoroughly enraged that good Christian biographer, 
Dr. J. G. Holland ; this is the evidence, the truthful- 
ness of which the Rev. J. A. Reed, unmindful of the 
fate of Ananias, attempted to deny. 

As a full and just answer to this attempted refuta- 
tion of Lamon's witnesses by Reed, I quote from the 
New York World the following : 

"This individual testimony is clear and over- 
whelming, without the documentary and other evi- 
dence scattered profusely through the rest of the 
volume. How does Mr. Reed undertake to refute 
it? In the first place, firstly, he pronounces it a 
'libel,' and in the second pla3e, secondly, he is 
' amazed to find ' and he says he has found that 
the principal witnesses take exception to Mr. 
Lamon's report of their evidence. This might have 
been true of many or all of Mr. Lamon's witnesses 
without exciting the wonder of a rational man. Few 


persons, indeed, are willing to endure reproach 
merely for the truth's sake, and popular opinion in 
the Republican party of Springfield, 111., is probably 
very much against Mr. Lamon. It would, therefore, 
be quite in the natural order if some of his witnesses 
who find themselves unexpectedly in print should 
succumb to the social and political terrorism of 
their place and time, and attempt to modify or ex- 
plain their testimony. They zealously assisted Mr. 
Herndon in ascertaining the truth, and while they 
wanted him to tell it in full they were prudently re- 
solved to keep their own names snugly out of sight. 
But Mr. Heed's statement is not true, and his 
amazement is entirely simulated. Two only out of 
the ten witnesses have gratified him by inditing, at 
his request, weak and guarded complaints of unfair 
treatment. These are John T. Stuart, a relative of 
the Lincolns and Edwardses, and Jim Matheny, 
both of Springfield, whom Mr. Lincoln taught his 
peculiar doctrines, but who may by this time be 
deacons in Mr. Reed's church. Neither of them 
helps Mr. Reed's case a particle. Their epistles 
open, as if by concert, in form and words almost 
identical. They say they did not write the language 
attributed to them. The denial is wholly unneces- 
sary, for nobod} 7 affirms that they did write it. 
They talked and Mr. Herndon wrote. His notes 
were made when the conversation occurred, and 


probably in their presence. At all events, they are 
both so conscious of the general accuracy of his re- 
port that they do not venture to deny a single word 
of it, but content themselves with lamenting that 
something else, which they did not say, was excluded 
from it. They both, however, in these very letters, 
repeat emphatically the material part of the state- 
ments made by them to Mr. Herndon, namely, that 
Mr. Lincoln was to their certain knowledge, until a 
very late period of his life, an ' Infidel,' and neither 
of them is able to tell when he ceased to be an Infi- 
del and when he began to be a Christian. And this 
is all Mr. Reed makes by his re-examination of the 
two persons whom he is pleased to exalt as Mr. 
Lamon's * principal witnesses.' They are but two 
out of the ten. What of the other eight? They 
have no doubt been tried and plied by Mr. Reed and 
bis friends to no purpose ; they stand fast by the 
record. But Mr. Reed is to be shamed neither by 
their speech nor their silence." 





Mrs. Sarah Lincoln Dennis P. Hanks Mrs. Matilda Moore John 
Hall Wm. McNeely Wm. G. Green Joshua F. Speed Green Caru- 
thers John Decamp Mr. Lynan James B. Spanieling Ezra String- 
ham Dr. G. H Ambrose J. H. Cheneiy Squire Perkins W. Per- 
kins James Gorley Dr. Wm. Jayne Jesse K. Dubois Hon. Joseph 
Gillespie Judge Stephen T. Logan Hon. Leonard Swett. 

WERE I to rest my case here, the evidence already 
adduced is sufficient, I think, to convince any un- 
prejudiced mind that Lincoln was not a Christian. 
But I do not propose to rest here. I have presented 
the testimonv of half a score of witnesses ; before I 

/ * 

lay down my pen I shall present the testimony of 
nearly ten times as many more. 

In this chapter will be given the testimony of 
some of the relatives and intimate associates of Lin- 
coln. The testimony of his relatives confirms the 
claim that he was not religious in his youth ; the 
others testify to his unbelief while a resident of New 
Salem and Springfield. 



If there was one person to whom Lincoln was 
more indebted than to any other, it was his step- 
mother, Sally Lincoln, a beautiful woman beautiful 
not only in face and form, but possessed of a most 
lovely character. She was not highly educated, but 
she loved knowledge, and inspired in her step-son a 
love for books. She was a Christian, but she 
attached more importance to deed than to creed. 
She loved Lincoln. After his death she said : " He 
was dutiful to me always. I think he loved me truly. 
I had a son, John, who was raised with Abe. Both 
were good boys ; but I must say, both now being 
dead, that Abe was the best boy I ever saw, or expect 
to see." Lincoln was too good and too great not to 
appreciate this woman's care and affection. 

When the materials for Lincoln's biography were 
being collected, Mrs. Lincoln was cousidered the 
most reliable source from which to obtain the facts 
pertaining to his boyhood. Her recollections of him 
were recorded with the utmost care. His Christian 
biographers, in order to make a Sunday-school hero 
() f him, have declared him to be a youth remarkable 
for his Christian piety and his love of the Bible. 
"he statements of Mrs. Lincoln disprove this claim. 
The substance of her testimony, as given by Lamon, 
is &iven as follows : 


" His step-mother herself a Christian, and long- 
ing for the least sign of faith in him could remem- 
ber no circumstance that supported her hope. On 
the contrary, she recollected very well that he never 
went off into a corner, as has been said, to ponder 
the sacred writings, and to wet the page with his 
tears of penitence " (Life of Lincoln, pp. 486, 487). 

" The Bible, according to Mrs. Lincoln, was not one 
of his studies ; ' he sought more congenial books.' 
At that time he neither talked nor read upon religious 
subjects. If he had any opinions about them, he 
kept them to himself" (Ibid, p. 38). 


The next witness is Lincoln's cousin, 


Hanks. Mr. Hanks held " the pulpy, red, little 
Lincoln' in his arms before he was "twenty-four 
hours old," and remained his constant companion 
during all the years that he lived in Kentucky and 
Indiana. He lived a part of the time in the Lincoln 
family, and married one of Lincoln's step-sisters. I 
met him recently at Charleston, 111. With evident 
delight he rehearsed the story of Lincoln's boyhood, 
and reaffirmed the truthfulness of the following 
statements attributed to him by Lincoln's biogra- 
phers : 

" Abe wasn't in early life a religious man. He was 
a moral man strictly. ... In after life he be- 


came more religious ; but the Bible puzzled him, 
especially the miracles ' (Every-Day Lii'e of Lin- 
coln, p. 54). 

" 'Religious songs did not appear to suit him at 
all,' says Dennis Hanks ; but of profane ballads and 
amorous ditties he knew the words of a vast 

"Another was: 

4 Hail Columbia, happy land! 
If you ain't drunk, I'll be damned,' 

a song which Dennis thinks should be warbled only 
in the ' fields ;' and tells us they knew and enjoyed 
1 all such songs as this ' (Lamou's Life of Lincoln, 
pp. 58, 59). 

The fitness of the above coarse travesty to be 
warbled, even in the fields, may well be doubted. 
Lamon would hardly have recorded it, and I cer- 
tainly should not quote it, but for the fact that it 
strikingly illustrates one phase of Lincoln's " youth- 
ful piety." 

Among the many Christian hymns which Lincoln 
parodied, Mr. Hanks recalls the following : 

" How tedious and tasteless the hours." 
" When I can read my title clear." 
" Oh! to grace how great a debtor!" 
u Come, thou fount of every blessing." 




Mrs. Lincoln's first husband was named Johnston. 
By him she had three children, a son and two daugh- 
ters. The latter, like their mother, developed into 
noble specimens of womanhood ; and both loved 
Lincoln as tenderly as though he had been their 
own brother. The elder was married to Dennis 
Hanks ; the younger, Matilda, married Lincoln's 
cousin, Levi Hall, and, after his death, a gentleman 
named Moore. 

Lamon says that Lincoln in his youth made a 
mockery of the popular religion ; not from any lack 
of reverence for what he believed to be good, but be- 
cause " he thought that a person had better be with- 
out it." That he was accustomed to turn so-called 
sacred subjects into ridicule is attested by his step- 
sister, Mrs. Moore. She says : 

" When father and mother would go to church, 
Abe would take down the Bible, read a verse, give 
out a hymn, and we would sing. Abe was about 
fifteen years of age. He preached and we would do 
the crying ' 1 (Every-Day Life of Lincoln, p. 71). 


On the 28th of April, 1888, the writer, in company I 
with Mr. Charles Biggs, of Westfield, 111., visited the 
old Lincoln homestead, near Farmington, 111. We 
dined with Mr. John Hall, a son of Lincoln's step- 


sister Matilda, in the old log-house built by Lincoln's 
father sixty years ago, and in which his father and 
step-mother died. Mr. Hall, who owns the home- 
stead and preserves with zealous care this venerable 
relic, is an intelligent farmer over sixty years of age. 
He greatly reveres the memory of his illustrious 
uncle and loves to dwell on his many noble traits of 
character. He stated that the family tradition is 
that while Abe was a most honest and humane boy 
he was not religious. He referred to the mock ser- 
mons he is said to have preached. " At these meet- 
ings," said Mr. Hall, " my mother would lead in the 
singing while Uncle Abe would lead in prayer. 
Among his numerous supplications, he prayed God 
to put stockings on the chickens' feet in winter." 



William McNeely, of Petersburg, 111., who became 
acquainted with Lincoln in 1831, when he arrived at 
New Salem on a flatboat, says : 

" Lincoln said he did not believe in total depravity, 
and although it was not popular to believe it, it was 
easier to do right than wrong; that the first thought 
was : what was right ? and the second what was 
wrong ? Therefore it was easier to do right than 
wrong, and easier to take care of, as it would take 
care of itself. It took an effort to do wrong, and a 



still greater effort to take care of it ; but do right 
and it would take care of itself. 

" I was acquainted with him a long time, and I 
never knew him to do a wrong act" (Lincoln Me- 
morial Album, pp. 393-395). 


One of Lincoln's early companions at New Salem 
was William G. Green. He and Lincoln clerked in 
the same store and slept together on the same cot. 
The testimony of Mr. Green has not been preserved. 
We have simply an observation of his, incidentally 
made, the substance of which is thus presented by 

" Lincoln's incessant reading of Shakspere and 
Burns had much to do in giving to his mind the 
' skeptical ' tendency so fully developed by the 
labors of his pen in 1834-5, arid in social conversa- 
tions during many years of his residence at Spring- 
field " (Life of Lincoln, p. 145). 

Mr. Green's conclusion, especially in regard to 
Burns, is quite generally shared by Lincoln's friends. 
Burns's satirical poems were greatly admired by 
Lincoln. "Holy Willie's Prayer," one of the most 
withering satires on orthodox Christianity ever 
penned, was memorized by him. Every one of its 
sixteen stanzas, beginning with the following, was 


an Infidel shaft which he delighted to hurl at the 
heads of his Christian opponents : 

u thou, wha in the heavens dost dwell, 
Wha, as it pleasas best thysel', 
Sends ane to lieaven and ten to hell, 

A' for thy g^ory, 
And no for ony guid or ill 

They've done afore theel" 


Another of Lincoln's earliest and best friends was 
Joshua F. Speed. When he was licensed as a law- 
yer and entered upon his professional career at 
Springfield without a client and without a dollar, 
Speed assisted him to get a start. W. H. Herndon 
was clerking for Speed at the time, and for more 
than a year Lincoln, Herndon and Speed roomed 
together. Referring to the religious views held by 
Lincoln at that time, Mr. Speed, in a lecture, says : 

" I have often been asked what were Mr. Lincoln's 
religious opinions. When I knew him, in early life, 
lie was a skeptic. He had tried hard to be a be- 
liever, but his reason could not grasp and solve the 
great problem of redemption as taught." 

This is the testimony of an orthodox Christian, 
and a church-member. Mr. Speed, during the years 
that he was acquainted with Lincoln, was not a 
member of any church ; but late in life he united 
with the Methodist church. As " the wish is father 



to the thought," Mr. Speed professed to believe that 
Lincoln before his death modified, to some extent, 
the radical views of his early manhood. 


Soon after Lincoln removed to Springfield, he be- 
came acquainted with Mr. Green Caruthers and 
remained on intimate terms with him during all the 
subsequent years of his life. Mr. Caruthers was a 
quiet, unobtrusive old gentleman, universally re- 
spected by those who knew him. The substance of 
his testimony is as follows : 

Lincoln, Bledsoe, the metaphysician, anc 


boarded at the Globe hotel in this city. Bledsoe 
tended toward Christianity, if he was not a Christian. 
Lincoln was always throwing out his Infidelity to 
Bledsoe, ridiculing Christianity, and especially the 
divinity of Christ." 


Another of Lincoln's most intimate Springfield 
friends was John Decamp. Mr. Decamp was inter- 
viewed by Mr. Herudon regarding Lincoln's religious 
views in Julv, 1887. His statement was brief, but 

/ * 

to the point. He says : 
"Lincoln was an Infidel." 


In 1880, at Bismarck Grove, Kan., the writer of 
this delivered a lecture entitled, "Four American 


Infidels," a portion of which was devoted to a pre- 
sentation of Lincoln's religious views. In jts report 
of the lecture, the Lawrence Standard, edited by 
Hon. E. G. Eoss, formerly United States Senator 
from Kansas, and more recently Governor of New 
Mexico, said : 

" In regard to Abraham Lincoln being an Infidel, 
the evidence adduced was overwhelming, and was 
confirmed by a gentleman present, Mr. Lynan, who 
bad known him intimately for thirty years. Mr. 
Lynan declared that none but personal acquaintance 
could enable one to realize the nobility and purity of 
Lincoln's character, but that he was bevond doubt 


or question a thorough disbeliever in the Christian 
scheme of salvation to the end of his life " (Lawrence 
Standard, Sept. 4, 1880). 


Mr. J. B. Spaulding, well known as one of the 
leading nurserymen and horticulturists of the United 
States, a man of broad culture and refinement, who 
resides near Springfield, became intimately ac- 
quainted with Lincoln as early as 1851, and for a 
long time resided on the same street with him in 
Springfield. Mr. Spaulding says : 

'Lincoln perpetrated many an irreverent joke at 
the expense of church doctrines. Kegarding the 
miraculous conception, he was especially sarcastic. 


He wrote a manuscript as radical as Ingersoll which 
his political friends caused to be destroyed." 


A short time since I was conversing with a party 
of gentlemen in Biverton, 111. It being near Lin- 
coln's old home, the subject of his religious belief 
was introduced. An old gentleman, who up to this 
time had not been taking part in the conversation, 
quietly observed : " I think I knew Lincoln's relig- 
ious views about as well as anv other man." "What 


was he ?" said one of the party. " An Infidel of the 
first water," was the prompt response. The old 
gentleman was Ezra Stringham, one of Lincoln's 
early acquaintances in Illinois. 


Dr. G. H. Ambrose, of Waldo, Fla., who was asso- 
ciated in the law business at Springfield from 1846 
to 1849 with a relative of Mrs. Lincoln, says : 

" Mr. Lincoln was an Infidel an outspoken one." 


Mr. J. H. Chenery, one of Springfield's pioneers 
for many years owner and proprietor of the leading 
hotel of Springfield says : 

" Heed tried to prove that Lincoln was a church 
man ; but evervbodv here knows that he was not. 

7 / 

Once in a great while, and only once in a great 


while, I saw him accompany his wife and children 
to church. His attacks upon the church were most 
bitter and sarcastic. He wrote a book against 
Christianity, but his friends got away with it." 


A few years ago there died near Atchison, Kan., 
an old gentleman named Perkins. He was poor, but 
honest, and a bright man intellectually. He was a 
son of Major Perkins who was killed in the Black 
Hawk war. Lincoln after the fight discovered the 
scalp of Major Perkins, which his savage assassin had 
taken but lost. His first impulse was to keep it and 
take it home to the family of the dead soldier. Then 
realizing that it would only tend to intensify their 
grief, he opened the grave and deposited it with the 
body. This incident led to an intimate acquaint- 
ance between Lincoln and the younger Perkins. In 
June, 1880, Mr. Perkins made the following state- 
ment relative to Lincoln's religious belief : 

" During all the time that I was acquainted with 
Abraham Lincoln I know that he was what the church 
calls an Infidel. I do not believe that he ever 
changed his opinions. When Coif ax was in Atchi- 
son I had a talk with him about Lincoln. Among 
other things, I asked him if Lincoln had ever been 
converted to Christianity. He told me that he had 



Mr. Perkins, an old lawyer and journalist of Illi- 
nois, who was acquainted with Lincoln for upward 
of twenty years, and who was his associate counsel 
in se\ eral important cases, writing from Belleview. 
Fla., under date of August 22, 1887, says : 

" The unfair efforts that Christians have been 
putting forth to drag Lincoln into their waning faith 
betray a pitiable imbecility. Were it possible for 
them to get the world to believe that Washington, 
Jefferson, and Lincoln, all prayed, had faith, and 
were washed in the blood of the Lamb, would that 
prove the inspiration of their Bible, harmonize its 
contradictions, put a ray of reason in its gross ab- 
surdities, or humanize the first one of its numerous 
bloody barbarities? 

" I knew Mr. Lincoln from the spring of 1838 till 
his death. Like Archibald Williams, our contem- 
porary, an able Lord Coke lawyer, he no more be- 
lieved in the inspiration of the Bible than Hume, 
Paine, or Ingersoll. Less inclined openly to de- 
nounce its absurdities and cruelties, or to antagonize 
the well-meaning credulous professors, than was 
Williams. Mr. Lincoln had no faith whatever in the 
first miracle of the Bible, or the scheme of bloody 
redemption it teaches. To attribute such sentiments 
to him, is to tarnish his well-earned reputation for 
common sense, and to impair the estimation of his 


countrymen and the world of his high sense of hu- 
manity, justice, and honor. 

" Two of my Presbyterian friends at Indian Point, 
near Petersburg, told me that they had interviewed 
Mr. Lincoln to prevent his impending duel with 
Shields claiming that it was contrary to the Bible 
and Christianity. He admitted that the dueling 
code was barbarous and regretted much to find him- 
self in its toils, but said he, ' The Bible is not my 
book, nor Christianity my profession.' 

In some reminiscences of Lincoln, recently pub- 
lished, referring to a celebrated murder case in 
which they were counsel for the defendant, Mr. 
Perkins savs : 


" I reminded him that from the first I had seen, 
and to him said, the case is hopeless, and that he 
must have expected to work a miracle to save the 
accused. He answered that I did him injustice, 
since he had no faith in miracles." 

Alluding to Lincoln's alleged change of heart, he 
writes : 

" He never changed a sentiment on the subject up 
to his final sleep." 


Mr. Gorley, who was the confidential friend of 
Lincoln, and who spent much time with him, both at 
home and abroad, made the following statement : 

9 \.J 


" Lincoln belonged to no religious sect. He was 
religious in his own way not as others generally. 
I do not think he ever had a change of heart, relig- 
iously speaking. Had he ever had a change of 
heart he would have told me. He could not have 
neglected it." 


Dr. Jayne, who was appointed Governor of Dakota 
by Lincoln, is one of the most prominent citizens of 
Springfield, and was one of Lincoln's ablest and 
most faithful political friends. He secured Lincoln's 
nomination for the Legislature once, and was one of 
the first to pit him against Douglas. In a letter to 
me, dated August 18, 1887, Dr. Jayne says : 

" His general reputation among his neighbors and 
friends of twenty-five years' standing was that of a 
disbeliever in the accepted faith of orthodox Chris- 
tians. His mind was purely logical in its construc- 
tion and action. He believed nothing except what 
was susceptible of demonstration. . . . His most 
intimate friends here, and close to him in the confi- 
dential relations of life, assert, in regard to those 
who claim for Lincoln a faith in the orthodox Chris- 
tian belief, that the claim is a fraud and utter non- 



Jesse K. Dubois, for a time State Auditor of Illi- 
nois, a noble and gifted man, and one whom Lincoln 


dearly loved, once related an anecdote which shows 
that if Lincoln did believe in a Supreme Being, he 
had little reverence for the God of Christianity. In 
company with Dubois, he was visiting a family in or 
near Springfield. It was summer, and while Dubois 
was in the house with the family, Lincoln occupied a 
seat in the yard with his feet resting against a tree, 
as was his wont. The lady, who was a very zealous 
Christian, called attention to his appearance and 
commented rather severely upon his ugliness. When 
they returned home Dubois referred to the lady's 
remarks. Lincoln was silent for a moment, and then 
said : " Dubois, I know that I am ugly, but she 
worships a God who is uglier than I am." 


Judge Gillespie, of Ed wards ville, 111., one of Lin- 
coln's most valued friends, writes as follows : 

" Mr. Lincoln seldom said anything on the subject 
of religion. He said once to me that he never could 
reconcile the prescience of Deity with the uncer- 
tainty of events." 

" It was difficult," says Judge Gillespie, " for him 
to believe without demonstration." 


Lincoln was admitted to the bar in 1837, when he 
was twenty-eight years of age, Judge Logan being 
on the bench at the time. Soon after his admission 


he formed a partnership with John T. Stuart which 
existed nearly four years, or until Mr. Stuart entered 
Congress. He then became the partner of Judge 
Logan, and continued in business with him until 
1843, when he united his practice with that of Mr. 
Herndon. The testimony of Mr. Stuart and Mr. 


Herndon has already been given. No formal state- 
ment of Judge Logan concerning this question has 
been preserved. All that I have been able to find is 
contained in a letter from Mr. Herndon dated Dec. 
22, 1888. Mr. Herndon wrote in relation to Lincoln's 
letter of consolation to his dying father. In Lin- 
coln's letter, while Christ and Christianity are wholly 
ignored, there is an implied recognition of immortal- 
ity and an expressed hope that he may meet his 
father again. Lincoln's friends, for the most part, 
consider the letter merely conventional, not an ex- 
pression of his real sentiments, but simply an effort 
to console his Christian father whom he could never 
meet again on earth. Mr. Herndon, however, is 
inclined to believe that while the tone of the letter is 
not exactly in accordance with the views generally 
held by Lincoln, it is yet a sincere expression of the 
feelings he entertained at the time. Referring to 
this letter, Mr. Herndon says : 

" I showed the letter to Logan, Stuart, et at. Logan 
laughed in my face as much as to say : * Herndon, are 
you so green as to believe that letter to be Lincoln's 


real ideas?' I cannot give the exact words of 
Logan, but he in substance said : ' Lincoln was an In- 
fidel of the most radical type.' " 


I close this division of my evidence with the testi- 
mony of that gifted lawyer and honored citizen of 
Illinois, Leonard Swett. Previous to his removal to 
Chicago, in 1865, Mr. Swett resided in Bloomington, 
and for a dozen years traveled the old Eighth 
Judicial Circuit with Lincoln. Few men knew Lin- 
coln better than did Swett, and none was held in 
higher esteem by Lincoln than he. It was he who 
placed Lincoln in nomination for the Presidency at 
Chicago in 1860. I quote from a letter written by 
Mr. Swett in 1866 : 

" You ask me whether he [Lincoln] changed his 
religious opinions toward the close of his life. I 
think not. As he became involved in matters of the 
greatest importance, full of great responsibility and 
great doubt, a feeling of religious reverence, a belief 
in God and his justice and overruling providence in- 
creased with him. He was always full of natural 
religion. He believed in God as much as the most 
approved church member, yet he judged of him by 
the same system of generalization as he judged every- 
thing else. He had very little faith in ceremonials 
or forms. In fact he cared nothing for the form of 




If his religion were to be judged 

by the lines and rules of church creeds, he would fall 
far short of the standard." 




Hon. W. H. T. Wakefield Hon. D. W. Wilder Dr. B. F. Gardner 
Hon. J. K. Vandemark A. Jeffrey Dr. Arch E. McNeal Charles 
McGrew Edward Butler Joseph Stafford Judge A. D. Norton 
J. L. Morrell Mahlon Ross L. Wilson H. K. Magie Hon. James 
Tuttle Col. F. S. Rutherford Judge Robert Leachman Hon. Orin B. 
Gould M. S. Growin Col. R. G. Ingersoll Leonard W. Volk Joseph 
Jefferson Hon. E. B. Washburn Hon. E. M. Haines. 

I WILL next present the evidence that I have 
gleaned from the lips or pens of personal friends of 
Lincoln who were acquainted with him in Illinois. 
The relations of these persons to Lincoln were, for 
the most part, less intimate than were those of the 
persons named in the preceding chapter ; but all of 
them enjoyed in no small degree his confidence and 


Mr. Wakefield, our first witness, is a son of the 
distinguished jurist, Judge J. A. Wakefield. He is 
a prominent journalist, and was the nominee of the 
Labor party, for Vice-President, in the Presi- 


dential contest of 1888. In a letter to the author, 
dated Lawrence, Kan., Sept. 28, 1880, Mr. Wake- 
field says : 

" My father, the late Judge J. A. Wakefield, was 
a life-long friend of Lincoln's, they having served 
through the Black Hawk war together and been in 
the Illinois Legislature together, during which latter 
time Lincoln boarded with my father in Vandalia, 
which was then the state capital. I remember of 
his visiting my father at Galena, in 1844 or 1845. 
They continued to correspond until Lincoln's death. 

" My father was a member of the Methodist church 
and frequently spoke of and lamented Lincoln's In- 
fidelity, and referred to the man}- arguments between 
them on the subject. 

" The noted minister, Peter Cartwright, boarded 
with my father at the same time that Lincoln did, and 
my father and mother told me of the many theolog- 
ical and philosophical arguments indulged in by 
Lincoln and Cartwright, and of the fact that they 
always attracted many interested listeners and 
usually ended by Cartwright's getting very angry 
and the spectators being convulsed with laughter at 
Lincoln's dry wit and humorous comparisons." 

Lincoln's legislative career at Vandalia extended 
from 1834 to 1837. It was about the beginning of 
this period that he wrote his book against Christian- 
ity. He was thoroughly informed and enthusiastic 


in his Infidel views, and it is not to be wondered at 
that on theological questions, he was able to 
vanquish in debate even so eminent a theologian as 
Peter Cartwright. Ten years later, Lincoln was the 
Whig, and Cartwright the Democratic candidate for 
Congress. In this campaign a determined effort was 
made by the church to defeat Lincoln on account of 
his Infidelity. But his popularity, his reputation for 
honesty, his recognized ability, and his transcendent 
powers on the stump, carried him successfully 
through, and he was triumphantly elected. 


One of the most gifted and honorable of Western 
journalists is D. W. Wilder, of Kansas. He was 
Survevor General of Kansas before it was admitted 


into the Union, and after it became a state, he held 
the office of State Auditor. Many years ago Gen. 
Wilder wrote and published an editorial on Lincoln's 
religious views in which he affirmed that Lincoln 
was a disbeliever in Christianity. The article ex- 


cited the wrath of the clergy, among them the Rev. 
D. P. Mitchell, the leading Methodist divine of 
Kansas, who replied with much warmth, but with- 
out refuting the statements of Gen. Wilder. Some 
of my Western readers will recall the article and the 
controversy it provoked. I have been unable to 
procure a copy of it, but in its place I present the 


following extract from a letter received from Gen. 
Wilder, dated St. Joseph, Mo., Dec. 29, 1881 : 

" Lincoln believed in God, but not in the divinity 
of Christ. At first, like Franklin, he was probably 
an Atheist. Although a ' forgiving ' man himself, he 
did not believe that any amount of * penitence ' could 
affect the logical effects of violated law. He has a 
remarkable passage on that theme." 

Concerning Lincoln's partner, Mr. Herndon, with 
whom he was acquainted, Gen. Wilder says : 

" Write to Win. H. Herndon, a noble man, Spring- 
field, 111. Send him your book ['Life of Paine']. 

He will reply. The stories told about him are lies." 




Dr. Gardner, an old and respected resident of 
Atlanta, 111., in March, 1887, made the following 
statement in regard to Lincoln's views : 

" I knew Lincoln from 1854 up to the time he left 
Springfield. He was an Infidel. He did not change 
his belief. Herndon told the truth in his lecture. 
Lincoln did not believe that prayer moved God. 
When he requested the prayers of his neighbors on 
leaving Springfield for Washington, he saw that a 
storm was coming and that he must have the sup- 
port of the church." 

These words of Lincoln in his farewell speech 
requesting the prayers of his friends, though used 


merely in a conventional way, have been cited by 
Holland, Arnold, and others, to prove that he be- 
lieved in the efficacy of prayer. That no such im- 
port was attached to them at the time is admitted by 
Holland himself. He says : " This parting address 
was telegraphed to every part of the country, and 
was strangely misinterpreted. So little was the 
man's character understood that his simple and 
earnest request that his neighbors should pray for 
him was received by many as an evidence both of 
his weakness and his hypocrisy. No President had 
ever before asked the people, in a public address, to 
pray for him. It sounded like the cant of the con- 
venticle to ears unaccustomed to the language of 
piety from the lips of politicians. The request was 
tossed about as a joke ' old Abe's last ' " (Holland's 

Life of Lincoln, p. 254). 


J. K. Vandemark, who formerly resided near 
Springfield, 111., and who was well acquainted with 
Lincoln, on the 13th of October, 1887, at Valparaiso, 
Neb., testified as follows : 

"I met Lincoln often had many conversations 
with him in his office. To assert that he was a be- 
liever in Christianity is absurd. He had no faith in 
the dogmas of the church." 

Mr. Vandemark at the time his testimony was 



given was a member of the State Senate of Ne- 


Mr. Jeffrey, who has resided near Waynesville, 
111., for a period of fifty years, and who was in the 
habit of attending court with Lincoln, year after 
year, in an interview on the 1st of March, 1887, made 
the following statement : 

" Lincoln was decidedly Liberal. He admitted that 
he wrote a book against Christianitv. In later 


years he seldom talked on this subject, but he did 
not change his belief. A thrust at the doctrine of 
endless punishment always pleased him. This doc- 
trine he abhorred." 


Dr. McNeall, an old physician of Bowen, 111., 
who was a delegate to the* Decatur Convention 
which brought Lincoln forward as a candidate for 
the Presidency, says : 

" I met Lincoln often during our political cam- 
paigns, and was quite well acquainted with him. I 
know that he was a Liberal thinker." 


Dr. McGrew is a resident of Coles County, 111. 
the county in which nearly all of Lincoln's relatives 
have resided for sixty years. He is a cousin of Hon. 


Allen G. Thurman, and is a man of sterling charac- 
ter. He was for a time related to Lincoln, in a 
business way, and met him frequently. I met Dr. 
McGrew in 1888, and when I propounded the 
question, " Was Lincoln a Christian ?" he replied : 

" Lincoln was not a Christian. He was cautious 
and reserved and seldom said anything about relig- 
ion except when he was alone with a few companions 
whose opinions were similar to his. On such occa- 
sions he did not hesitate to express his unbelief." 


Early in 1858, Lincoln delivered his memorable 
Springfield speech which prepared the way for his 
debates with Douglas, and made him President of the 
United States. Mr. Edward Butler, who resided in 
Springfield for a period of twenty-six years, and who 
was well acquainted with Lincoln, was leader of the 
band which furnished the music on this occasion. 
In a letter written at Lyons, Kan., Jan. 16, 1890, Mr. 
Butler relates some incidents connected with the 
meeting, and quotes a passage from Lincoln's speech 
to the effect that from the agitation of the slavery 
question, truth would in the end prevail. Alluding 
to this passage, Mr. Butler says : 

" Shortly after the meeting referred to, I chanced 
to be talking with Lincoln and quizzingly enquired 
Jiow he could reconcile this and similar utterances 



with Holy Writ ? Without committing himself, he 
enquired if I had read Gregg's ' Creed of Christen- 
dom.' I informed him that I had not. ' Then/ said 
he, ' read that book and perhaps you may ascertain 
my views about truth prevailing.' I never conversed 
with Lincoln afterwards, but I obtained the book, 
which I keep treasured in my library. I am well 
convinced that no man who is used to weighing 
evidence, especially of Lincoln's humane and un- 
biased disposition, can read the book in question 
without truth coming to the surface." 

It is hardly necessary to state that Gregg's " Creed 
of Christendom " is a standard work in Infidel litera- 
ture, one of the most scholarly, powerful and con- 
vincing arguments against orthodox Christianity 
ever written. 


Joseph Stafford, a resident of Galesburg, 111., and 
an acquaintance of Lincoln, says : 

" I know that Lincoln was a Liberal." 


In April, 1893, at Ardmore, I. T., I met Judge 
Norton, of Gainesville, Tex., an old acquaintance of 
Lincoln and Douglas. Judge Norton related many 
interesting reminiscences of these noted men. 
Speaking of Lincoln's religion, he said : 


" For nearly fifty years I was a resident of Illinois. 
I practiced for many years in the same courts with 
Lincoln and knew him well. He was an Infidel. In 
his early manhood he wrote a book against Chris- 
tianity which his friends prevented him from pub- 
lishing. Because he had become famous, the church 
preached him from a theatre to heaven." 


Mr. J. L. Morrell, a worthy citizen of Virden, 111., 
who came to Illinois soon after Lincoln did, settled 
in the adjoining county to him, and like him fol- 
lowed for a time the avocation of surveyor, in a 
conversation with the writer, on the 8th of February, 
1889, made the following statement : 

"I knew Lincoln well met him often. His relig- 
ion was the religion of common sense. He went 
into this subject as deep as any man. He did not 
believe the inconsistencies of theology. He was not 
a Christian." 


Squire Ross, another old resident of Virden, 111., 
a lawyer, and a writer of some repute, says : 

" I was acquainted with Lincoln, but never talked 
with him on religion. He did not belong to church, 
and his friends say that he was not a Christian." 



Similar to the above is the testimony of Mr. 
Lusk Wilson, a prominent and respectable citizen of 
Litchfield, 111. : 

" I was acquainted with Abraham Lincoln, but 
never heard him give his views on the subject of 
religion. His partner, Herndon, and other friends, 
state that he was not a believer in Christianity." 


Two miles east of Atlanta, 111., resides one of the 
pioneers of Illinois, James Tuttle, now over eighty 
years of age. He was a member of the Constitu- 
tional Convention of 1847, and is a man universally 
esteemed for his love of truth and honesty. Mr. 
Tuttle's residence is situated on the state road 
leading from Springfield to Bloomington. In going 

from Springfield to Bloomingfcon, to attend court, 


and in returning home again, Lincoln always stopped 
over night with Mr. Tuttle. Theological questions 
were favorite topics with both of them, and the 
evening hours were usually spent in conversations of 
this character. Mr. Tuttle accordingly became well 
acquainted with Lincoln's religious views. Feb. 26, 
1887, at Minier, 111., he made the following statement 
relative to them : 

" Mr. Lincoln did not believe in Christianity. He 
denounced it unsparingly. He had the greatest con- 



tempt for religious revivals, and called those who 
took part in them a set of ignoramuses. He was 
one of the most ardent admirers of Thomas Paine I 
ever met. He was continually quoting from the 
1 Age of Reason.' Said he, ' I never tire of reading 

Mr. Tuttle is confident that Lincoln always re- 
mained a Freethinker, and believes that those who 
claim to have evidence from him to the contrary, 
willfully affirm what they know to be false. 


Mr. Magie formerly lived in Illinois, and was for 
a time connected with the State Department at 
Springfield. Writing from Brooklyn, N. Y., March 
19, 1888, he says : 

" My acquaintance with Mr. Lincoln was limited, 
as I did not reside in Springfield during his resi- 
dence there. I met him during his campaign with 
Douglas at different times, and was with him once 

for three days. . . . Mr. Lincoln was a Free- 
thinker of the Thomas Paine type. There have been 
picked up some of Mr. Lincoln's utterances about 
* Providence,' * God,' and the like, on which an at- 
tempt is made to make him out a Christian. Those 
who knew him intimately agree in the statement that 
he was a pronounced skeptic." 

Mr. Magie also refers to the Infidel pamphlet 



written by Lincoln. His knowledge regarding this, 
however, was derived, not from Lincoln himself, but 
from his friends. He says : 

" At one time he wrote a criticism of the New 
Testament which he proposed to publish and which 
his friends succeeded in having suppressed, solely 
because of their regard for his political future." 

In a recent contribution to a New York paper from 
Washington, D. C., Mr. Magie writes as follows : 

" I have always been fully persuaded in my own 
mind that it would have been utterly impossible for 
a man possessing that intuitive wisdom, keenness of 
logic, and discernment of truth, which were the 
marked characteristics of Mr. Lincoln's mind, ever 
to have subscribed to the atrocious doctrines of the 
Christian church. He was developed far above it, 
and although making no war upon the church, he 
did not hesitate to speak his mind freely upon these 
subjects upon all proper occasions. I lived in 
Springfield among his old neighbors for many years, 
and I have talked with many of them, and to those 
who had good opportunity to know his views touch- 
ing religious matters. All, without exception, 
classed him among the skeptics. It was not until 
after his death that he was claimed as a Christian. 

" I am sorry for Newton Bateman. He has placed 
himself in a most awkward predicament by trying to 
keep out of one. . . . He permitted Mr. Holland 


to circulate an atrocious falsehood in his * Life of 
Lincoln* rather than incur ' unpleasant notoriety ' by 
a firm and courageous denial." 

" It is not a matter of much importance as to just 
what Abraham Lincoln did believe concerning God, 
the Bible, or the man Jesus, but when we discover 
an earnest, persistent, mean, and wicked attempt by 
lying and deceitful men to pervert the truth in this 
matter, in order that their ' holy religion ' shall profit 
by their lies, the matter does become of some impor- 
tance, and I am glad that Mr. has taken hold 

of this subject with that zeal and earnestness which 
usually characterize his great ability, and from what 
I know in this matter I can assure all whom it may 
concern that by the time he is through with the sub- 
ject it will be deemed settled that Mr. Lincoln was 
not a hypocrite, neither was he a believer in the 
monstrous and superstitious doctrines of the Chris- 
tian church." 

The foregoing evidence, with the exception o_ a 
portion of Mr. Magie's testimony, was all given to 
the writer by the witnesses themselves, either by 
letter or orally, and he hereby certifies to its faith- 
ful transcription. This evidence is from men whose 
characters as witnesses cannot be impeached, and it 
is hardly possible that one of them will ever favor 
the other side with a disclaimer. 


I wish now to record a statement from Colonel 
Rutherford, a well-known citizen and soldier of 
Illinois. It was not made to the writer, but was 
made during the war to Mr. W. W. Eraser, a member 
of his regiment, and a man of unquestionable 
veracity. I will let Mr. Eraser present it, together 
with the circumstances which called it out. I quote 
from a letter dated Ottawa, Kan., Dec. 16, 1881 : 

" During the siege of Vicksburg our colonel, F. S. 
Rutherford, Colonel of the 97th 111. Vol. Inft., was 
about to leave us, and I went to see him about tak- 
ing a small package to Alton his home and mine. 
He had been sick and quite unable to do active ser- 
vice. During our conversation I said that many of 
the Alton boys did not like to be left under the com- 
mand of . Colonel Rutherford then said : 

* If my life is worth anything I owe it as much to my 
family as my country, and it will be worthless to 
either if I stay much longer in camp, but I hate to 
leave the boys.' Colonel Rutherford said that he 
had stumped his district for Mr. Lincoln, and had 
expected, from Mr. Lincoln's promises, something 
better than a colonelcy. I told Colonel Rutherford 
that I was sorry to hear that, as I had always thought 
so well of Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Rutherford then said : 

* What more could you expect of an Infidel ?' I said : 

* Why, Colonel, doesn't Lincoln believe in a God ?' 


He replied : * Well, be may believe in God, but he 
doesn't believe in the Bible nor Christ. I know it, 
for I have heard him make fun of them and say that 
Christ was a bastard if Joseph was not his father, 
and I have some sheets of paper now at home that 
he wrote, making fun of the Bible." 



The venerable Southern jurist, Judge Leachman, 
was one of Lincoln's intimate and valued friends. 
He is a Christian, but candidly confesses that Lin- 
coln was not a believer. In the autumn of 1889, at 
Anniston, Ala., Judge Leachman made the following 
statement to Mr. W. S. Andres, of Portsmouth, O. : 

" Lincoln was not such a Christian as the term is 
used to imply by church members and church-going 
people. He was in the strictest sense a moralist 
He looked to actions and not to belief. He greatly 
admired the Golden Kule, and was one of those who 
thought that ' One world at a time ' was a good 
idea. . . . He thought this a good place to be 
happy as i g shown by his wonderful love for liberty 


and mercy. No, I can truthfully say, Abraham Lin- 
coln was not a Christian." 


Another friend and admirer of Lincoln was Orin 
B. Gould, of Franklin Furnace, O. Mr. Gould was 



one of the noted men of Southern Ohio. He was a 
man of sterling worth and extensive knowledge, and 
was familiarly known as the " Sage of the Furnace." 
He became acquainted with Lincoln in Illinois at an 
early day, and a close friendship existed between 
them while Lincoln lived. Mr. Gould survived his 
illustrious friend nearly a quarter of a century, dying 
recently at his beautiful home on the banks of the 
Ohio. Previous to his death the question of Lin- 
coln's religion was presented to him and his own 
views on the subject solicited. His response was as 
follows : 

" He, like myself, recognized no monsters for Gods. 
He, like myself, discarded the divinity of Christ, and 
the idea of a hell's fire. He, like myself, admired 
Christ as a man, and believed the devil and evil to 
be simply ' truth misunderstood.' He, like myself, 
thought good wherever found should be accepted 
and the bad rejected." 


Mr. Gowin, an old and prominent citizen, and a 
Justice of the Peace, of McCune, Kan., in a recent 
article, has this to say regarding Lincoln: 

"I lived near Springfield, 111., from the time that 
I was a child, and at the time Lincoln came before 
the people, and during the time he was President, 


his enemies called him an Infidel, and his friends 
did not deny it." 


On the eighty-fourth anniversary of Lincoln's 
birth, Col. Ingersoll delivered in New York his 
masterly oration on Abraham Lincoln. In this 
oration he affirmed that the religion of Lincoln 
was the religion of Voltaire and Paine. Immediately 
after its delivery Gen. Collis, of New York, ad- 
dressed the following note to Col. Ingersoll : 

"Dear Col. Ingersoll : I have just returned home 
from listening to your most entertaining lecture upon 
the life of Abraham Lincoln. I thank you sincerely 
for all that was good in it, and that entitles me to be 
frank in condemning what I consider was bad. You 
say that Lincoln's religion was the religion of Vol- 
taire and Tom Paine. I know not where you get 
your authority for this, but if the statement be true 
Lincoln himself was untrue, for no man invoked ' the 
gracious favor of Almighty God ' in every effort of 
his life with more apparent fervor than did he, and 
this God was not the Deists' God but the God whom 
he worshiped under the forms of the Christian 
Church, of which he was a member. 

" I do not write this in defense of his religion or as 
objecting to yours, but I think it were better for the 


truth of history that you should blame him for what 
he was than commend him for what he was not. 

" Sincerely yours, 

" Charles H. T. Collis." 

In answer to the above Col. Ingersoll penned the 
following reply : 
" Gen. Charles H. T. Collis, 
" My dear sir : 

"I have just received your letter in which you 
criticise a statement made by me to the effect that 
Lincoln's religion was the religion of Voltaire and 
Thomas Paine, and you add, ' I know not where you 
get your authority for this, but if the statement be 
true Lincoln himself was untrue, for no man ever in- 
voked the gracious favor of Almighty God in every 
effort of his life with more apparent fervor than did 

"You seem to belaboring under the impression 
that Voltaire was not a believer in God, and that he 
could not have invoked the gracious favor of 
Almighty God. The truth is that Voltaire was not 
only a believer in God, but even in special Provi- 
dence. I know that the clergy have always de- 
nounced Voltaire as an Atheist, but this can be 
accounted for in two ways : (1) By the ignorance of 
the clergy, and (2) by their contempt of truth. 
Thomas Paine wjis also a believer in God, and wrote 
his creed as follows : ' I believe in one God and no 


more, and hope for immortality.' The ministers 
have also denounced Paine as an Atheist. 

" You will, therefore, see that your first statement 
is without the slightest foundation in fact. Lincoln 
could be perfectly true to himself if he agreed with 
the religious sentiments of Voltaire and Paine, and 
yet invoke the gracious favor of Almighty God. 

" You also say, ' This God ' (meaning the God 
whose favor Lincoln invoked) ' was not the Deists' 
God.' The Deists believe in an Infinite Being, who 
created and preserves the universe. The Christians 
believe no more. Deists and Christians believe in 
the same God, but they differ as to what this God 
has done, and to what this God will do. You fur- 
ther say that ' Lincoln worshiped his God under the 
forms of the Christian Church, of which he was a 
member.' Again you are mistaken. Lincoln was 
never a member of any church. Mrs. Lincoln stated 
a few years ago that Mr. Lincoln was not a Chris- 
tian. Hundreds of his acquaintances have said the 
same thing. Not only so, but many of them have 
testified that he was a Freethinker ; that he denied 
the inspiration of the Scriptures, and that he always 
insisted that Christ was not the son of God, and that 
the dogma of the atonement was and is an absurd- 


" I will very gladly pay you one thousand dollars 
for your trouble to show that one statement in 



your letter is correct even one. And now, to quote 
you, ' Do you not think it were better for the truth 
of history that you should state the facts about 
Lincoln, and that you should commend him for what 
he was rather than for what he was not ?' 

" Yours truly, 

" K. G. Ingersoll. 1 


In the spring of 1860, just before Lincoln was 
nominated for the Presidency, the celebrated sculp- 
tor, Volk, made a bust of him. He spent a week in 
Chicago and made daily sittings in the artist's 
studio. Mr. Yolk relates the following incident, 
which hardly accords with the tales told about Lin- 
coln's reverence for the Sabbath, and his love for 
church services : 

" He entered my studio on Sunday morning, re- 
marking that a friend at the hotel had invited him 
to go to church. ' But,' said Mr. Lincoln, ' I thought 
I'd rather come and sit for the bust. The fact is,' 
he continued, 'I don't like to hear cut-and-dried 


It is difficult for orthodox Christians to reconcile 
Lincoln's fondness for the play with his reputed 
piety. That his last act was a visit to the theater is 


a fact that stands out in ghastly prominence to 
them. To break its force they offer various explana- 
tions. Some sav that he went to avoid the office- 


seekers ; others that Mrs. Lincoln compelled him to 
go ; and still others that he was led there by fate. 
The truth is he was a frequent attendant at the 
theater. He went there much oftener than he went 
to church. The visit of a clergyman annoyed him, 
but the society of actors he enjoyecl. He greatly 
admired the acting of Edwin Booth. He sent a note 
to the actor Hackett, praising him for his fine pres- 
entation of Falstaff. He called John McCulloch to 
his box one night and congratulated him on his suc- 
cessful rendition of the part he was playing. 


In his autobiography, which recently appeared in 
the Century Magazine, Joseph Jefferson gives some 
interesting reminiscences of Lincoln. In the earlier 
part of his dramatic career he was connected with 
a theatrical company, the managers of which, one of 
whom was his father, built a theater in Springfield, 
111. A conflict between the preachers and players 
ensued. The church was powerful then, and the 
city joined with the church to suppress the theater. 
The history of the struggle and its termination, as 
narrated by Mr. Jefferson, is as follows : 

"In the midst of their rising fortunes a heavy 
blow fell upon them. A religious revival was in 
progress at the time, and the fathers of the church 


not only launched forth against us in their sermons, 
but by some political maneuver got the city to pass 
a new law enjoining a heavy license against our 
' unholy ' calling ; I forget the amount, but it was 
large enough to be prohibitory. Here was a terrible 
condition of affairs all our available funds invested, 
the Legislature in session, the town full of people, 
and by a heavy license denied the privilege of open- 
ing the new theater ! 

"In the midst of their trouble a young lawyer 
called on the managers. He had heard of the in- 
justice, and offered, if they would place the matter 
in his hands, to have the license taken off, declaring 
that he only desired to see fair play, and he would 
accept no fee whether he failed or succeeded. The 
case was brought up before the council. The young 
man began his harangue. He handled the subject 
with tact, skill, and humor, tracing the history of 
the drama from the time when Thespis acted in a 
cart to the stage of to-day. He illustrated his 
speech with a number of anecdotes, and kept the 
council in a roar of laughter ; his good humor pre- 
vailed, and the exorbitant tax was taken off. 

" This young lawyer was very popular in Spring- 
field, and was honored and beloved by all who knew 
him, and, after the time of which I write, he held 
rather an important position in the Government of 
the TJnited States. He now lies buried near Spring- 



field, under a monument commemorating his great- 
ness and his virtues and his name was Abraham 


The ball-room, too, had its attractions for him. 
Some years ago Hon. E. B. Washburn contributed 
to the North American Review a lengthy article on 
Lincoln. When President Taylor was inaugurated, 
Lincoln was serving his term in Congress. Alluding 
to the inaugural ball, Mr. Washburn says : 

" A small number of mutual friends including 
Mr. Lincoln made up a party to attend the inau- 
guration ball together. It was by far the most 
brilliant inauguration ball ever given. . . . We 
did not take our departure until three or four 
o'clock in the morning ' (Keminiscences of Lincoln, 
p. 19). 


In February, 1859, Governor Bissell gave a recep- 
tion in Springfield which Lincoln attended. Hon. 
E. M. Haines, then a member of the Legislature, and 
one of Lincoln's supporters for the Senate, referring 
to the affair, says : 

" Dancing was going on in the adjacent rooms, and 
Mr. Lincoln invited my wife to join him in the 
dancing, which she did, and he apparently took 



much pleasure in the recreation " (Every-Day Life 
of Lincoln, p. 308). 

Early in January, 1863, President and Mrs. Lin- 
coln gave a reception and ball at the White House. 
This was a severe shock to the Christians of the 
country, and provoked a storm of censure from the 
religious press. 

According to Ninian Edwards, Lincoln is con- 
verted to Christianity about 1848. In March, 1849, 
he attends the inauguration ball and " Won't go home 
till morning." According to Dr. Smith, he is con- 
verted in 1858. In February, 1859, he attends and 
participates in a ball at Springfield. According to 
Noah Brooks, he is converted in 1862. In January, 
1863, he gives a ball himself. In every instance he 
retires from the altar only to enter the ball-room. 




Hon. Geo. W. Julian Hon. John B. Alley Hon. Hugh McCul- 
loch Doim Piatt Hon. Schuyler Colfax Hon. Geo. S. Boutwell 
Hon. Wm. D. Kelly E. H. Wood Dr. J. J. Thompson Rev. James 
Shrigley Hon. John Covode Jas. E. Murdock Hon. M. B. Field 
Harriet Beecher Stowe Hon. J. P. Usher Hon. S. P. Chase 
Frederick Douglas Mr. Defrees Hon. Wm. H. Seward Judge Aaron 
Goodrich Nicolay and Hay's " Life of Lincoln " Warren Chase 
Hon. A. J. Grover Judge James M. Nelson. 

THE evidence of more than fifty witnesses has 
already been adduced to prove that Lincoln was not 
a Christian in Illinois. Those who at first were so 
forward to claim that he was, have generally recog- 
nized the futility of the claim. They have aban- 
doned it, and content themselves with affirming that 
he became a Christian after he went to Washington. 
These claimants, being for the most part rigid sec- 
tarians themselves, endeavor to convince the world 
that he not only became a Christian, but an orthodox 
Christian, and a sectarian ; that even from a Calvin- 
istic standpoint, he was " sound not only on the 
truth of the Christian religion but on all its funda- 
mental doctrines and teachings." The testimony of 



Colonel Larnon, Judge Davis, Mrs. Lincoln, and 
Colonel Nicolay, not only refutes this claim, but 
shows that he was not in any just sense of the term 
a Christian when he died. In addition to this evi- 
dence, I will now present the testimony of a score of 
other witnesses who knew him in Washington. 
These witnesses do not all affirm that he was a total 
disbeliever in Christianity ; but a part of them do, 
while the testimony of the remainder is to the effect 
that he was not orthodox as claimed. 


Our first witness is George W. Julian, of Indiana. 
Mr. Julian was for many years a leader in Congress, 
was the Anti-Slavery candidate for Vice-President, 
in 1852, and one of the founders of the party that 
elected Lincoln to the Presidency. He was one of 
Lincoln's warmest personal friends and intimately 
acquainted with him at Washington. Writing to me 
from Santa Fe, N. M., under date of March 13, 1888, 
Mr. Julian says : 

" I knew him [Lincoln] well, and I know that he 
was not a Christian in any old-fashioned orthodox 
sense of the word, but only a religious Theist. He 
was, substantially, such a Christian as Jefferson, 
Franklin, Washington, and John Adams ; and it is 
perfectly idle to assert the contrary." 



In 1886, the publishers of the North American 
Review issued one of the most unique, original, and 
interesting works on Lincoln that has yet appeared 
" Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln." It was 
edited by Allen Thorndike Bice, and comprises, in 
addition to a biographical sketch of Lincoln's life by 
the editor, thirty-three articles on Lincoln written 
by as many distinguished men of his day. One of 
the best articles in this volume is from the pen of 
one of Boston's merchant princes, John B. Alley. 
Mr. Alley was for eight years a member of Congress 
from Massachusetts, serving in this capacity during 
all the years that Lincoln was President. To his 
ability and integrity as a statesman this remarkable 
yet truthful tribute has been paid : " No bill he 
ever reported and no measure he ever advocated 
during his long term of service failed to receive the 
approbation of the House." Lincoln recognized his 
many sterling qualities, and throughout the war his 
relations with the President were of the most 


intimate character. Mr. Alley is one of the many 
who know that Lincoln was not a Christian, and one 
of the few who have the courage to affirm it. He 

" In his religious views Mr. Lincoln was very nearly 
what we would call a Freethinker. While he re- 
flected a great deal upon religious subjects he com- 


municated his thoughts to a very few. He had little 
faith in the popular religion of the times. He had a 
broad conception of the goodness and power of an 
overruling Providence, and said to me one day that 
he felt sure the Author of our being, whether called 
God or Nature, it mattered little which, would deal 
very mercifully with poor erring humanity in the 
other, and he hoped better, world. He was as free 
as possible from all sectarian thought, feeling, or 
sentiment. No man was more tolerant of the opin- 
ions and feelings of others in the direction of relig- 
ious sentiment or had less faith in religious dogmas ' 
(Reminiscences of Lincoln, pp. 590, 591). 

In conclusion, Mr. Alley says : 

" While Mr. Lincoln was perfectly honest and up- 
right and led a blameless life, he was in no sense 
what might be considered a religious man " (Ibid). 


Hon. Hugh McCulloch, a member of Lincoln's 
Cabinet, his last Secretary of the Treasury, writes : 

" Grave and sedate in manner, he was full of kind 
and gentle emotion. He was fond of poetry. 
Shakspere was his delight. Few men could read 
with equal expression the plays of the great dra- 
matist. The theater had great attractions for him, 
but it was comedy, not tragedy, he went to hear. 
He had great enjoyment of the plays that made him 


laugh, no matter how absurd and grotesque, and he 
gave expression to his enjoyment by hearty and 
noisy applause. He was a man of strong religious 
convictions, but he cared nothing for the dogmas of 
the churches and had little respect for their creeds ' 
(Keminiscences of Lincoln, pp. 412, 413). 


The distinguished lawyer, soldier and journalist, 
Donn Piatt, who knew Lincoln in Illinois and who 
met him often in Washington, writes : 

" I soon discovered that this strange and strangely 
gifted man, while not at all cynical, was a skeptic. 
His view of human nature was low, but good- 
natured. I could not call it suspicious, but he be- 
lieved only what he saw " (Reminiscences of Lincoln, 
p. 480). 

Those who are disposed to believe that Lincoln's 
Christian biographers have observed an inflexible 
adherence to truth in their statements concerning 
his religious belief would do well to ponder the 
following words of Mr. Piatt : 

" History is, after all, the crystallization of popular 
beliefs. As a pleasant fiction is more acceptable 
than a naked fact, and as the historian shapes his 
wares, like any other dealer, to suit his customers, 
one can readily see that our chronicles are only a 
duller sort of fiction than the popular novels so 


eagerly read ; not that they are true, but that they 
deal in what we long to have the truth. Popular 
beliefs, in time, come to be superstitions, and create 
gods and devils. Thus Washington is deified into 
an impossible man, and Aaron Burr has passed into 
a like impossible monster. Through the same proc- 
ess Abraham Lincoln, one of our truly great, has 
almost gone from human knowledge " (Ibid, p. 


Previous to the war no class of persons were 
louder in their denunciation of Abolitionism than 
the clergy of the North. When at last it became 
evident that the institution of slavery was doomed, 
in their eagerness to be found on the popular side, 
they were equally loud in their demands for its 
immediate extirpation. In September, 1862, a depu- 
tation of Chicago clergymen waited upon the Presi- 
dent for the purpose of urging him to proclaim the 
freedom of the slave. Notwithstanding he had 
matured his plans and was ready to issue his 
Proclamation, he gave them no intimation of his in- 
tention. In connection with their visit, Colfax 
relates the following : 

" One of these ministers felt it his duty to make a 
more searching appeal to the President's conscience. 
Just as they were retiring, he turned, and said to 




Mr. Lincoln, * What you have said to us, Mr. Presi- 
dent, compels me to say to you in reply, that it is a 
message to you from our Divine Master, through me, 
commanding you, sir, to open the doors of bondage 
that the slave may go free ! ' Mr. Lincoln replied, 
instantly, ' That may be, sir, for I have studied this 
question, by night and by day, for weeks arid for 
months, but if it is, as you say, a message from your 
Divine Master, is it not odd that the only channel 
he could send it by was that roundabout route by 
that awfully wicked city of Chicago?' (Reminis- 
cences of Lincoln, pp. 334, 335). 

In a lecture delivered in Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1886, 
Mr. Colfax stated that Lincoln was not a Christian, 
in the evangelical sense. To a gentleman who 
visited him at his home in South Bend, Ind., he 
declared that Lincoln was not a believer in orthodox 
Christianity. Again at Atchison, Kan., he informed 
Mr. Perkins that Lincoln had never been converted 
to Christianity, as claimed. 


William D. Kelley, for thirty years a member of 
Congress from Pennsylvania, relates an incident 
similar to the one related by Mr. Colfax. A 
" Quaker preacher ' called at the White House to 
urge the President to proclaim at once the freedom 


of the slave. To illustrate her argument and empha- 
size her plea, she cited the history of Deborah. 

" Having elaborated this Biblical example," says 
Mr. Kelley, " the speaker assumed that the President 
was, as Deborah had been, the appointed minister of 
the Lord, and proceeded to tell him that it was his 
duty to follow the example of Deborah, and forth- 
with abolish slavery, and establish freedom through- 
out the land, as the Lord had appointed him to do. 

" ' Has the Friend finished ?' said the President, as 
she ceased to speak. Having received an affirmative 
answer, he said : ' I have neither time nor disposi- 
tion to enter into discussion with the Friend, and 
end this occasion by suggesting for her consideration 
the question whether, if it be true that the Lord has 
appointed me to do the work she has indicated, it is 
not probable that he would have communicated 
knowledge of the fact to me as well as to her'' 
(Reminiscences of Lincoln, pp. 284, 285). 


A great many pious stories have been circulated 
in regard to the Emancipation Proclamation. We 
are told that he made a " solemn vow to God " that 
if Lee was defeated at Antietam he would issue the 
Preliminary Proclamation. And yet this document 
contains no recognition of God. He even com- 
pleted the draft of it on what Christians are pleased 



to regard as God's holy day. Mr. Boutwell states 
that Lincoln once related to him the circumstances 
attending the promulgation of the instrument. He 
quotes the following as Lincoln's words : 

" The truth is just this : When Lee came over 
the river, I made a resolution that if McClellan drove 
him back I would send the Proclamation after him. 
The battle of Antietam was fought Wednesday, and 
until Saturday I could not find out whether we had 
gained a victory or lost a battle. It was then too 
late to issue the Proclamation that day, and the fact 
is I fixed it up a little Sunday, and Monday I let them 
have it" (Reminiscences of Lincoln, p. 126). 

E. H. WOOD. 

Mr. E. H. Wood, one of Lincoln's old Springfield 
neighbors, who visited him at Washington during 
the war, made the following statement to Mr. Hern- 
don, in October, 1881 : 

" I came from Auburn, N. Y. knew Seward 
well knew Lincoln very well lived for three years 
just across the alley from his residence. I had many 
conversations with him on politics and religion as 
late as 1859 and '60. He was a broad religionist a 
Liberal. Lincoln told me Franklin's story. . Frank- 
lin and a particular friend made an agreement that 
the first one died he would come back and tell 
things went. Well, Franklin's friend died, but 



never came back. * It is a doubtful question/ said 
Lincoln, * whether we get anywhere to get back.* 
Lincoln said, * There is no hell.' He did not say 
much about heaven. I met him in Washington and 
saw no change in him." . 

I have given the testimony of two of Lincoln's 
nearest neighbors in Springfield, Isaac Hawley and 
E. H. Wood. Mr. Hawley believes that Lincoln was 
a Christian ; Mr. Wood knows that he was not. Mr. 
Hawley never heard Lincoln utter a word to 
support his belief; Mr. Wood obtained his knowledge 
from Lincoln himself. Mr. Hawley 's belief is of 
little value compared with Mr. Wood's knowledge. 
Mr. Hawley never heard Lincoln defend Christianity 
and probably never heard him oppose it. Lincoln 
knew that Mr. Hawley was a Christian that he had 

*/ , 

no sympathy with his Freethought views. He did 
not desire to offend or antagonize him, and hence 
he refrained from introducing a subject that he knew 
was distasteful to him. Mr. Wood, on the other 
hand, was a man of broad and Liberal ideas, aiul 
Lincoln did not hesitate to express to him his views 
with freedom. 


Dr. J. J. Thompson, an old resident of Illinois, 
now in Colorado, in a letter, dated March 18, 1888, 
writes as follows : 


" I knew Abraham Lincoln from my boyhood up 
to the time of his death. I was in his law office 
many times and met him several times in Washing- 
ton. He was a Liberal, outspoken, and seemed to 
feel proud of it." 

" This great and good man," concludes Dr. 
Thompson, " claimed Humanity as his religion." 


Rev. Jas. Shrigley, of Philadelphia, who was ac- 
quainted with President Lincoln in Washington, and 
who received a hospital chaplaincy from him, says : 

" President Lincoln was also remarkably tolerant. 
He was the friend of all, and never, to my knowl- 
edge, gave the influence of his great name to 
encourage sectarianism in any of its names and 
forms " (Lincoln Memorial Album, p. 335). 


% i 

In connection with Mr. Shrigley's appointment, 
the following anecdote is related. Mr. Shrigley was 
not orthodox, and w r hen it became known that his 
name had been sent to the Senate, a Committee of 
"Young Christians" waited upon the President for 
the purpose of inducing him to withdraw the nomi- 
nation. Hon. John Covode, of Pennsylvania, was 
present during the interview and gave ft to the 
press. It is as follows : 



" ' We have called, Mr. President, to confer with 
you in regard to the appointment of Mr. Shrigley, 
of Philadelphia, as hospital chaplain.' 

" The President responded : ' Oh, yes, gentlemen ; 
I have sent his name to the Senate, and he will nc 
doubt be confirmed at an early day.' 

" One of the young men replied : ' We have not 
come to ask for the appointment, but to solicit you- 
to withdraw the nomination.' 

" ' Ah,' said Lincoln, ' that alters the case ; but on 
what ground do you ask the nomination with- 
drawn ?' 

" The answer was, ' Mr. Shrigley is not sound in 
his theological opinions.' 

" The President inquired : ' On what question is 
the gentleman unsound?' 

" Response : ' He does not believe in endless 
punishment ; not only so, sir, but he believes that 
even the rebels themselves will finally be saved.' 

" ' Is that so ?' inquired the President. 

" The members of the committee both responded, 
'Yes,' 'Yes.' 

" ' Well, gentlemen, if that be so, and there is any 
way under heaven whereby the rebels can be saved, 
then, for God's sake and their sakes, let the man be 
appointed ' " (L. M. A., pp. 336, 337). 

And he was appointed. 



It is claimed that few public men have made 
greater use of the Bible than Lincoln. This is true. 
He was continually quoting Scripture or alluding to 
Scriptural scenes and stories, sometimes to illustrate 
or adorn a serious speech, but more frequently to 
point or emphasize a joke. The venerable actor and 
elocutionist, James E. Murdoch, who had met Lin- 
coln, both in Springfield and Washington, relates an 
anecdote of him while at Washington which serves 
to illustrate this propensity : 

" One day a detachment of troops was marching 
along the avenue singing the soul-stirring strain of 
' John Brown.' They were walled in on either side 
by throngs of citizens and strangers, whose voices 
mingled in the roll of the mighty war-song. In the 
midst of this exciting scene, a man had clambered 
into a small tree, on the sidewalk, where he clung, 
unmindful of the jeers of the passing crowd, called 
forth by the strange antics he was unconsciously ex- 
hibiting in his efforts to overcome the swaying 
motion of the slight stem which bent beneath his 
weight. Mr. Lincoln's attention was attracted for a 
moment, and he paused in the serious conversation 
in which he was deeply interested and in an ab- 
stracted manner, yet with a droll cast of the eye, and 
a nod of the head in the direction of the man, he re- 



peated, in his dry and peculiar utterance, the fol- 
lowing old-fashioned couplet : 

1 And Zaccheous lie did climb a tree, 
His Lord and Master tor to see.' " 


(L. M. A., pp. 349, 350). 

Mr. Murdoch states that in connection with this 
incident Lincoln was charged " with turning sacred 
subjects into ridicule." He apologizes for, and 
attempts to palliate this levity, and affects to believe 
that Lincoln was a Christian. But almost daily 
Lincoln indulged in jokes at the expense of the Bible 
and Christianity, many of them ten-fold more sacri- 
legious in their character than this trifling incident re- 
lated by Mr. Murdoch. If the scrupulously pious 
considered this simple jest, uttered in the midst of a 
mixed crowd, irreverent, what would have been 
their horror could they have listened to some of his 
remarks made when alone with a skeptical boon 
companion? With Christians and with strangers 
he was generally guarded in his speech, lest he 
should give offense ; but with his unbelieving friends, 
up to the end of his career, his keenest shafts of 
wit were not infrequently aimed at the religion of 
his day. This shows that the popular faith had no 
more sacredness for Lincoln, the President, in 
Washington, than it had for Lincoln, the farmer's 
boy, who mocked and mimicked it in Indiana, or 


Lincoln, the lawyer, who scoffed at it and argued 
against it in Illinois. 



Mr. Field, who had met nearly all the noted 
characters of his day, both of Europe and America, 
in his " Memories of Many Men," has this signifi- 
cant sentence respecting Lincoln : 

" Mr. Lincoln was entirely deficient in what the 
phrenologists call reverence [veneration]." 

This made it easy for him to emancipate himself 
from the slavery of priestcraft and become and 
remain a Freethinker. Professor Beall, one of the 
ablest of living phrenological writers, says : 
. " No man can ' enjoy religion,' as the Methodists 
express it, unless he has well developed veneration 
and wonder " (The Brain and the Bible, p. 109). 

"All those who rebel against any form of govern- 
ment which in childhood they were taught to 
revere, must of necessity do so in opposition to the 
faculty of veneration. Thus it is obvious that the 
less one possesses of the conservative restraining 
faculties, the more easily he becomes a rebel or an 
Infidel to that which his reason condemns. On the 
other hand, the profoundly conscientious and rever- 
ential man, who sincerely regards unbelief as a sin, 
of course instinctively antagonizes every skeptical 
thought, and is thus likely to remain a slave to the 


religion learned at his mother's knee' (Ibid, p. 

Mr. Field also relates the following anecdote of 
Lincoln : 

" I was once in Mr. Lincoln's company when a 
sectarian controversy arose. He himself looked 
very grave, and made no observation until all the 
others had finished what they had to say. Then 
with a twinkle of the eye he remarked that he pre- 
ferred the Episcopalians to every other sect, because 
they are equally indifferent to a man's religion and 
his politics." 


The noted author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin " had 
several interviews with the President. She wrote 
an article on him which has been cited in proof of 
his " deeply religious nature." But if her words 
prove anything, they prove that he was not an 
evangelical Christian. They are as follows : 

" But Almighty God has granted to him that clear- 
ness of vision which he gives to the true-hearted, and 
enabled him to set his honest foot in that promised 
Iind of freedom which is to be the patrimony of all 
anen, black and white ; and from henceforth nations 
shall rise up and call him blessed. We believe he has 
never made any religious profession, but we see evi- 
dence that in passing through this dreadful national 


crisis, he has been forced by the very anguish of the 
struggle to look upward, where any rational creature 
must look for support. No man in this agony has 
suffered more and deeper, albeit with a dry, weary, 
patient pain, that seemed to some like insensibility. 

' Whichever way it ends,' he said to the writer, 1 1 

* ' * 

have the impression that /shan't last long after it's 
over 5 ' (Every-Day Life of Lincoln, pp. 575, 576). 

Mrs. Stowe was herself an orthodox Christian 
communicant, but her store of good sense was too 
great to allow her to inflict her religious notions 
upon the unbelieving President, and, as a conse- 
quence, she did not see him rush out of the room 
with a Bible under his arm to I was going to say 
pray God to deliver him from an intolerable 

That the mighty burden which pressed upon Lin- 
coln made him a sadder and more serious man at 
Washington than he had been before is true. Chris- 
tians are always mistaking sadness for penitence and 
seriousness for piety, and so they claim that he ex- 
perienced a change of heart. 



Christians and Tbeists are wont to speak of Lin- 
coln's constant and firm reliance upon God. But it 
is a little remarkable that in the preparation of his 
greatest work he did not rely upon God. In the 


supreme moments of his life he forgot God. Dr. 
Barrows says : 

" When he wrote his immortal Proclamation, he 
invoked upon it . . . ' the gracious favor of Al- 
mighty God.' 

When he wrote his immortal Proclamation he had 
no thought of God. Judge Usher, a member of his 
Cabinet, tells us how God came to be invoked : 

" In the preparation of the final Proclamation of 
Emancipation, of January 1, 1863, Mr. Lincoln mani- 
fested great solicitude. He had his original draft 
printed and furnished each member of his Cabinet 
with a copy, with the request that each should ex- 
amine, criticise, and suggest any amendments that 
occurred to them. At the next meeting of the Cabi- 
net Mr. Chase said : ' This paper is of the utinost 
importance greater than any state paper ever made 
by this Government. A paper of so much impor- 
tance, and involving the liberties of so many people, 
ought, I think, to make some reference to Deity. I 
do not observe anything of the kind in it. J Mr. 
Lincoln said : ' No ; I overlooked it. Some refer- 
ence to Deity must be inserted. Mr. Chase, won't 
you make a draft of what you tliink ought to be in- 
serted ?' Mr. Chase promised to do so, and at the 
next meeting presented the following : * And upon 
this Act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice 
warranted by the Constitution upon military neces- 


sity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind 
and the gracious favor of Almighty God' (Remi- 
niscences of Lincoln, pp. 91, 92), 


In the New York Tribune of Feb. 22d, 1893, 
appeared an article on "How the Emancipation 

Proclamation was made " written bv Mrs. Janet 


Chase Hoyt, daughter of Salmon P. Chase. In this 
article Mrs. Hoyt gives the following extract from a 
letter written to her by her father in 1867 : 


" Looking over old papers, I found many of my 
memoranda, etc., of the war, and among them my 
draft of a proclamation of emancipation sub- 
mitted to Mr. Lincoln the day before his own was 
issued. He asked all of us for suggestions in 
regard to its form and I submitted mine in writing, 
and among other sentences the close as it now 
stands, which he adopted from my draft with a modi- 
fication. It may be interesting to you to see pre- 
cisely what I said, and I copy it. You must remem- 
ber that in the original draft there was no reference 
whatever to Divine or human sanction of the act. 
What I said was this at the conclusion of my letter : 


' Finally, I respectfully suggest that on an occasion 
of such interest there can be no imputation of affec- 
tation against a solemn recognition of responsibility 
before men and before God, and that some such 



close as this will be proper : " And upon this act, 
sincerely believed to be an act of justice warranted 
by the Constitution (and of duty demanded by the 
circumstances (of the country), I invoke the con- 
siderate judgment of mankind and the gracious 
favor of Almighty God.' Mr. Lincoln adopted this 
close, substituting only for the words inclosed in 
parentheses these words : ' upon military necessity,' 
which I think was not an improvement.' 


During his Presidency the clergy petitioned him 
to recommend in his message to Congress an amend- 
ment to the Constitution recognizing the existence 
of God. In preparing his message it seems that he 
inserted the request. Referring to this, Mr. Defrees, 
Superintendent of Public Printing during Lincoln's 
administration, says : 

" When I assisted him in reading the proof he 
struck it out, remarking that he had not made up 
his mind as to its propriety' (Westminster Review, 
Sept. 1891). 


In his" Travels Around the World," Seward records 
one of Lincoln's sarcastic hits at the doctrine of end- 
less punishment. Speaking of England's jealousy of 
the United States in certain matters, Seward says : 


" That hesitation and refusal recall President 
Lincoln's story of the intrusion of the Universalists 
into the town of Springfield. The several orthodox 
churches agreed that their pastors should preach 
down the heresy. One of them began his discourse 
with these emphatic words : * My Brethren, there is 
a dangerous doctrine creeping in among us. There 
are those who are teaching that all men will be 
saved; but my dear brethren, we hope for better 
things ' " (Travels Around the World, p. 513). 


Judge Goodrich, of Minnesota, Lincoln's minister 
to Belgium, who was one of the most accomplished 
scholars in the West, and an author of note, and who 
was on terms of close intimacy with Lincoln, both 
before and after he became President, says : 

"He [Lincoln] believed in a God, i.e., Nature; but 
he did not believe in the Christ, nor did he ever 
affiliate with any church." 


Abraham Lincoln believed in a Supreme Being, 
but he did not believe in the God of Christians. 
The God of Christians was to him the most hideous 
monster that the imagination of man had ever con- 
ceived. There were two doctrines taught in connec- 
tion with this deity which he especially abhorred 
the doctrine of endless punishment, and the doctrine 


of vicarious atonement. That the innocent should 
suffer for .the guilty that God should permit his 
sinless son to be put to a cruel death to atone for the 
sins of wicked men was to him an act of the most 
infamous injustice. His whole nature rebelled 
against the idea. Frederick Douglas narrates an in- 
cident which, while it has no direct reference to this 
theological doctrine, yet tends to disclose his abhor- 
rence of the idea. Mr. Douglas was engaged in re- 
cruiting colored troops and visited the President for 
the purpose of securing from him a pledge that col- 
ored soldiers would be allowed the same privileges 
accorded white soldiers. As the Confederate Gov- 
ernment had declared that they would be treated as 
insurgents, he also urged upon him the necessity of 
retaliating, if colored prisoners were put to death. 
But to the latter proposition Lincoln would not 
listen. Mr. Douglas says : 

" I shall never forget the benignant expression of 
his face, the tearful look of his eye and the quiver 
of his voice, when he deprecated a resort to retalia- 
tory measures. He said he could not take men out 
and kill them in cold blood for what was done by 
others. If het could get hold of the persons who 
were guilty of killing the colored prisoners in cold 
blood, the case would be different, but he could not 
kittthe innocent for the guilty " (Reminiscences of Lin- 
coln, pp. 188, 189). 



Of the numerous biographies of Lincoln that have 
been published, the authors of three, above all 
others, were specially qualified and possessed the 
necessary materials for a reliable biography of him 
Herndon, Lamon, and Nicolay and Hay. 

As Colonel Lamon's " Life " covers but a part of 
Lincoln's career, and as Mr. Herndon's " Life " deals 
more with his private life than with his public his- 
tory, the biography of Lincoln that is likely to be 
accepted as the standard authority, is the work writ- 
ten by his private secretaries, Col. John G. Nicolay 
and Col. John Hay, which originally appeared in the 
Century Magazine. In the chapter on " Lincoln and 
the Churches," the religious phase of Lincoln's 
character is presented. In dealing with this ques- 
tion the authors have carefully avoided the rock upon 
which Lamon's " Life ' was wrecked, and at the 
same time have refrained from repeating the misrep- 
resentations of Holland and Arnold. They do not 
offend the church by openly declaring that Lincoln 
was an Infidel ; neither do they outrage truth by 
asserting that he was a Christian. They affirm that 
during the latter years of his life he recognized a 
"superior power," but they do not intimate that he 
recognized Jesus Christ as this power, or any part 
of it, nor that he accepted the Bible as a special 
revelation of this power. In the following passage 


they impliedly deny both his alleged Atheism and 


his alleged orthodoxy : 

" We have no purpose of attempting to formulate 
his creed ; we question if he himself ever did so. 
There have been swift witnesses who, judging from 
expressions uttered in his callow youth, have called 
him an Atheist, and others who, with the most laud- 
able intentions, have remembered improbable con- 
versations which they bring forward to prove at 
once his orthodoxy and their own intimacy with 

As it is not claimed that Lincoln was an Atheist, 
especially during the last years of his life, the above 
can very properly be brought forward in support of 
the negative of this question. In the last clause it 
is intended by the authors to administer a sarcastic 
rebuke to such witnesses as Brooks, Willets and 
Vinton, as well as deny the truthfulness of their 

In regard to Lincoln's youth, the following from 
Nicolay and Hay's work corroborates Lamon's 
statements and refutes those of Holland: 

" We are making no claim of early saintship for 
him. He Tvas merely a good boy, with sufficient 
wickedness to prove his humanity. ... It is 
also reported that he sometimes impeded the celerity 
of harvest operations by making burlesque speeches, 
or worse than that, comic sermons, from the top of 





some tempting stump, to the delight of the hired 
hands and the exasperation of the farmer." 


In 1888, I received a brief letter from Warren 
Chase pertaining to Lincoln's religious belief. Mr. 
Chase was acquainted with Lincoln in Washington. 
His letter has been mislaid, but I recall the principal 
points in it, which are as follows : 1. Lincoln was 
not a believer in Christianity ; 2. He was much in- 
terested in the phenomena of Spiritualism. 


A. J. Grover, a life-long reformer, an old-time 
Abolitionist, an able advocate of human liberty, and 
a personal friend and admirer of Lincoln, in a letter 
written April 13, 1888, sends me the following as his 
testimony : 

" Mr. Lincoln was not a religious man in the 
church sense. He was an Agnostic. He did not be- 
lieve in the Bible as the infallible word of God. He 
believed that Nature is God's word, given to all men 
in a universal language which is equally accessible 
to all, if all are equally intelligent. That this great 
lesson, God's word in his works, is infinite, and that 
men have only learned a very little of it, and have 
yet the most to learn. That the religions of all ages 
and peoples are only very feeble and imperfect 


attempts to solve the great problems involved in 
nature and her laws. Mr. Lincoln heartily disliked 
the narrow and silly pretensions of the church and 
priesthood who now falsely claim him, as they do 
Washington, Franklin and others. 

"I knew Mr. Lincoln from the Douglas cam- 
paign in Illinois in 1858 until his death, and I never 
heard him on any occasion use a single pious ex- 
pression in the sense of the church not a word that 
indicated that he believed in the church theology. 
But I have heard him use many expressions that 
indicated that he did not know much, or pretend to 
know much, and had no settled convictions concern- 
ing the great questions that theology deals so 
flippantly with, and pretends to know all about. 
And I know to my own knowledge that the claim 
the church now sets up that he was a Christian is 
false as false as it is in regard to Washington." 

Writing to me again under date of Jan. 12, 1889, 
Mr. Grover says : 

" I knew Mr. Lincoln in Illinois and in Washington. 
I was in the War office, for a time, in a department 
which had charge of the President's books, so-called. 
I met him in passing between the White House and 
the buildings then occupied by the War Department, 
almost every day. I often had to go to Mr. Stan- 
ton's office, and have often seen Mr. Lincoln there. 


I frequently had to go to the White House to see 


him. It was known to all of his acquaintances that 
he was a Liberal or Rationalist." 


The last, and in some respects the most important, 
of our Washington witnesses is Judge James M. 
Nelson. Judge Nelson for many years has been a 
resident of New York, but he formerly lived in Ken- 
tucky and Illinois, Lincoln's native and adopted 
states. He is a son of Thomas Pope Nelson, a dis- 
tinguished member of Congress from Kentucky, and 
the first United States Minister to Turkey. His 
great grandfather was Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer 
of the Declaration of Independence from Virginia. 
He was long and intimately acquainted with Lin- 
coln both in Illinois and Washington. About the 
close of 1886, or early in 1887, Judge Nelson pub- 
lished his "Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln" 
in the Louisville, Ky., Times. In reference to Lin- 
coln's religious opinions he says : 

" In religion, Mr. Lincoln was about of the same 
belief as Bob Ingersoll, and there is no account of 
his ever having changed. He went to church a few 
times with his family while he was President, but so 
far as I have been able to find out he remained an 

" Mr. Lincoln in his younger days wrote a book," 
says Judge Nelson, "in which he endeavored to 


prove the fallacy of the plan of salvation and the 

divinitv of Christ." 


I have yet another passage from Judge Nelson's 
" Reminiscences" to present, a passage which, more 
than anything else in this volume, perhaps, is calcu- 
lated to provoke the wrath of Christian claimants. 
To lend an air of plausibility to their claims these 
claimants are continually citing expressions of a 
seemingly semi-pious character occasionally to be 
met with in his speeches and state papers. These 
expressions, in a measure accounted for by Mr. 
Herndon, Colonel Lamon, and others, are still 
further explained by a revelation from his own lips. 
Judge Nelson says : 

"I asked him once about his fervent Thanksgiving 
Message and twitted him with being an unbeliever 
in what was published. ' Oh/ said he, 'that is 
some of Seward's nonsense, and it pleases the 
fools. 1 " 




New York World Boston Globe Chicago Herald Manford's 
Magazine Herald and Review Chambers's Encyclopedia 
Encyclopedia Britannica People's Library of Information The 
World's Sages E very-Day Life of Lincoln Hon. Jesse W. Weik 
Chas. W. French Cyrus 0. Poole A Citizen of Springfield Henry 
Walker Wm. Bissett Frederick Heath Rev. Edward Eggleston 
Rev. Robert Collyer Allen Thorndike Rice Robert C. Adams 
Theodore Stanton Geo. M. McCrie Gen. M. M. Trumbull Rev. 
David Swing, D.D. Rev. J. Lloyd Jones Rev. John W. Chadwick. 

THE matter selected for this chapter is of a miscel- 
laneous nature, consisting of the statements of those 
who, for the most part, are not known to have been 
personally acquainted with Lincoln. It embraces 
the opinions of journalists, encyclopedists, biogra- 
phers, and others. If their words cannot be ac- 
cepted as the testimony of competent witnesses, they 
may at least be regarded as the verdict of honest 


In the New York World, fifteen years ago, ap- 
peared the following : 

" While it may fairly be said that Mr. Lincoln en- 
tertained many Christian sentiments, it cannot be 


said that he was himself a Christian in faith or 
practice. He was no disciple of Jesus of Nazareth. 
He did not believe in his divinity and was not a 
member of his church. 

" He was a* first a writing Infidel of the school of 
Paine and Volney, and afterward a talking Infidel of 
the school of Parker and Channing." 

Alluding to the friendly attitude he assumed 
toward the church and Christianity during the war, 
this article concludes : 

"If the churches had grown cold if the Chris- 
tians had taken a stand aloof that instant the 
Union would have perished. Mr. Lincoln regulated 
his religious manifestations accordingly. He de- 
clared frequently that he would do anything to save 
the Union, and among the many things he did was the 
partial concealment of his individual religious opin- 
ions. Is this a blot upon his fame ? Or shall we 
all agree that it was a conscientious and patriotic 
sacrifice ?" 


As evidence of Lincoln's piety, we are referred to 
a picture where Lincoln, with his son Tad, is sup- 
posed to be reverentially poring over the pages of 
the Bible. The history of this picture, however, has 
often been explained, and its apparently religious 



character shown to be quite secular. The Boston 
Globe, in a recent issue, says : 

" The pretty little story about the picture of 
President Lincoln and his son Tad reading the Bible 
is now corrected for the one-hundredth time. The 
Bible was Photographer Brady's picture album, 
which the President was examining with his son 
while some ladies stood by. The artist begged the 
President to remain quiet and the picture was taken. 
The truth is better than fiction, even if its recital 
conflicts with a pleasing theory." 


, < 

During February, 1892, the Chicago Herald pub- 
lished an editorial on Lincoln's religion. Being one 
of the latest contributions to this subject, and ap- 
pearing in one of the principal journals of Lincoln's 
own state, it is of especial importance. It is a can- 
did statement of what nearly every journalist of Illi- 
nois knows or believes to be the facts. From it I 
quote as follows : 

" He was without faith in the Bible or its teach- 
ings. On this point the testimony is so over- 
whelming that there is no basis for doubt. In his 
early life Lincoln exhibited a powerful tendency to 
aggressive Infidelity. But when he grew to be a 
politician he became secretive and non-committal in 
his religious belief. He was shrewd enough to 


realize the necessity of reticence with the convic- 
tions he possessed if he hoped to succeed in 

" It is matter of history that in 1834, at New 
Salem, 111., Lincoln read and circulated Volney's 
k Kuins ' and Paine's ' Age of Reason,' giving to both 
books the sincere recommendation of his unqualified 
approval. About that time or a little later he wrote 
an extensive argument against Christianity, intend- 
ing to publish it. In this argument he contended that 
the Bible was not inspired and that Jesus Christ was 
not the son of God. He read this compilation of his 
views to numerous friends, and on one occasion 
when so engaged his friend and employer, Samuel 
Hill, snatched the manuscript from the author's 
hands and threw it into the stove, where it was 
quickly consumed. A Springfield friend said of him 
in 1838. * Lincoln was enthusiastic in his Infidelitv.' 


John T. Stuart, who was his first law partner, de- 
clares : * Lincoln was an avowed and open Infidel. 
He went further against Christian belief than any 
man I ever heard. He always denied that Jesus 
was the Christ of God.' David Davis stated that 
* Lincoln had absolutely no faith in the Christian 
sense of the term.' 

" These authorities ought to be conclusive, but 
there is further testimony. This latter is important 
as explanatory of Lincoln's frequent allusions in his 


Presidential messages arid proclamations to the Su- 
preme Being. To the simplicity of his nature there 
was added a poetic temperament. He was fond of 
effective imagery, and his references to the Deity are 
due to the instinct of the poet. After his death Mrs. 
Lincoln said : ' Mr. Lincoln had no faith and no 
hope in the usu *l acceptation of those words. He 
never joined a church.' She denominates what has 
been mistaken for his expressions of religious senti- 
ment as ' a kind of poetry in his nature,' adding * he 
was never a Christian.' Herndon, who was his latest 
law partner and biographer, is even more explicit. 
He says : ' No man had a stronger or firmer faith 
in Providence God than Mr. Lincoln, but the 
continued use by him late in life of the word God 
must not be interpreted to mean that he believed in 
a personal God. In 1854 he asked me to erase the 
word ' God ' from a speech which I had written and 
read to him for criticism, because my language indi- 
cated a personal God, whereas he insisted no such 

personality ever existed.' 

i j 

" So it must be accepted as final by every reason- 
able mind that in religion Mr. Lincoln was a skeptic. 
But above all things he was not a hypocrite or pre- 
tender. He was a plain man, rugged and earnest, 
and he pretended to be nothing more. He believed 
in humanity, and he was incapable of Phariseeism. 
He had great respect for the feelings and convictions 


of others, but he was not a sniveler. He was honest 
and he was sincere, and taking him simply for what 
he was, we are not likely soon to see his like 


There are two Christian publications that have 
had the fairness to admit the truth respecting Lin- 
coln's belief. Manford's Magazine, a religious peri- 
odical published in Chicago, in its issue for 
January, 1869, contained the following: 

" That Mr. Lincoln was a believer in the Christian 
religion, as understood by the so-called orthodox 
sects of the day, I am compelled most emphatically 
to deny ; that is, if I put faith in the statements of 
his most intimate friends in this city [Springfield]. 
All of them with whom I have conversed on this 
subject, agree in indorsing the statements of Mr. 
Herndon. Indeed, many of them unreservedly call 
him an Infidel." 

" The evidence on this subject is sufficient, the 
writer says, to place the name of Lincoln by the 
side of Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, and [Ethan] 
Allen, of Revolutionary notoriety, as Rationalists ; 
besides being in company with D'Alembert, the 
great mathematician, Diderot, the geometrician, poet, 
and metaphysician ; also with Voltaire, Hume, Gib- 
bon, and Darwin." 


Referring to the Infidel book, written by Lincoln, 
the writer says : 

" This work was subsequently thrown in Mr. Lin- 
coln's face while he was stumping this district for 
Congress against the celebrated Methodist preacher, 
Rev. Peter Cartwright. But Mr. Lincoln never 
publicly or privately denied its authorship, or the 
sentiments expressed therein. Nor was he known 
to change his religious views any, to the latest 
period of his life." 

The article concludes with these truthful words : 

"Mr. Lincoln was too good a man to be a 
Pharisee ; too great a man to be a sectarian ; and 
too charitable a man to be a bigot." 


This work, in an abridged form, originally ap- 
peared in the Truth Seeker in 1889 and 1890. After 
its appearance, the Adventist Herald and Review, 
one of the fairest and most ably conducted religious 
journals in this country, said : 

" The Truth Seeker has just concluded the publi- 
cation of a series of fifteen contributed articles de- 
signed to prove that Abraham Lincoln, instead of 
being a Christian, as has been most strongly 
claimed by some, was a Freethinker. The testimony 
seems conclusive. . . . The majority of the 
great men of the world have always rejected Christ, 


and, according to the Scriptures, they always will; 
and the efforts of Christians to make it appear that 
certain great men who never professed Christianity 
were in reality Christians, is simply saying that 
Christianity cannot stand on its merits, but must 
have the support of great names to entitle it to 
favorable consideration." 


Alden's American Edition of "Chambers's Encyclo- 
pedia," one of the most popular as well as one of 
the most reliable of encyclopedias, says : 

" He [Lincoln] was never a member of a church ; 
he is believed to have had philosophical doubts of 
the divinity of Christ, and of the inspiration of the 
Scriptures, as these are commonly stated in the 
system of doctrines called evangelical. In early life 
he read Volney and Paine, and wrote an essay in 
which he agreed with their conclusions. Of modern 
thinkers he was thought to agree nearest with 
Theodore Parker " (Art. Lincoln, Abraham). 


By whom the article on Lincoln in " Chambers's 
Encyclopedia " was written, whether by one of Liu- 
coin's personal friends, or by a stranger, I know 
not. The article in the " Britannica " was written 
by his private secretary, Colonel Nicolay. In this 



article his religion is briefly summed up in the 
following words : 

" His [Lincoln's] nature was deeply religious, but 
he belonged to no denomination ; he had faith in 
the eternal justice and boundless mercy of Provi- 
dence ; and made the Golden Rule of Christ his 
practical creed" (Am. Ed., vol. xiv, p. 669). 

This statement at first glance presents a Christian 
appearance, and the reader is liable to infer that the 
writer aims to state that Lincoln was a Christian. 
But he does not. He aims to state in the least 
offensive manner possible that he was not that he 
was simply a Deist. A person may have a " deeply 
religious ' nature, and not be a Christian. He may 
have " faith in the eternal justice and boundless 
mercy of Providence," and yet have no faith what- 
ever in Christianity. He may make " the Golden 
Rule of Christ [or Confucius] his practical creed," 
and at the same time wholly reject the dogma of 
Christ's divinity. The above statement is substan- 
tially true as applied to Lincoln, and it would be 
equally true if applied to that prince of Infidels, 
Thomas Paine. His nature was deeply religious ; he 
had faith in the justice and mercy of Providence ; and 
he, too, made the Golden Rule his practical creed. 




Mrs. Lincoln was nominally a Presbyterian, and 


frequently, though not regularly, attended the Rev. 
Dr. Gurley's church in Washington. Lincoln usually 
accompanied her, not because he derived any pleas- 
ure or benefit from the services, but because he be- 
lieved it to be a duty he owed to his wife who, in 
turn, generally accompanied him when he went to 
his church, the theater. " The People's Library of 
Information" contains the following relative to his 
church attendance : 

" Lincoln attended service once a day. He seemed 
always to be in agony while in church. . . . His 
pastor, Dr. Gurley, had the 'gift of continuance,' 
and the President writhed and squirmed and gave 
unmistakable evidence of the torture he endured." 


In " The World's Sages," Mr. Bennett writes as 
follows concerning Lincoln's belief : 

" Upon the subject of religious belief there is some 
diversity of claims. All his friends and acquaint- 
ances readily admit that in early manhood and 
middle age he was an unbeliever, or a Deist. In 
fact, he wrote a book or pamphlet vindicating this 
view. His most intimate friends that knew him 
best, claim that his opinions underwent no change 
in this respect ; while a certain number of Christians 
have, since his death, undertaken to make out that 



he had become a convert to Christianity ' (World's 
Sages, p. 773). 

" When the contradictory character of the evidence 
is taken into consideration, together with the fact 
that his nearest and most intimate friends would be 
most likely the ones to know of Mr. Lincoln's 
change, had any such taken place, the incredibility 
of the asserted change is easily appreciated " (Ibid, 
p. 774). 


In the Emancipation Proclamation appears the 
following paragraph, which contains the only allusion 
to Deity to be found in this immortal document : 

" And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an 
act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon 
military necessity, I invoke the considerate judg- 
ment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty 

The appearance of the above paragraph in the 
Proclamation is thus accounted for in Francis F. 
Brown's " Every-Day Life of Lincoln," and agrees 
with Judge Usher's and Chief Justice Chase's ac- 
count of it : 

"It is stated that Mr. Lincoln gave the most 
earnest study to the composition of the Emancipa- 
tion Proclamation. He realized, as he afterward 
said, that the Proclamation was the central act of 


his administration, and the great event of the Nine- 
teenth Century. When the document was completed, 
a printed copy of it was placed in the hands of each 
member of the Cabinet, and criticisms and sugges- 
tions were invited. Mr. Chase remarked : ' This 
paper is of the utmost importance, greater than any 
state paper ever made by this Government. A 
paper of so much importance, and involving the 
liberties of so many people, ought, I think, to make 
some reference to Deity. I do not observe anything 
of the kind in it' (Every-Day Life of Lincoln, pp. 
549, 550). 

The amendment suggested was allowed by the 
President, and Mr. Chase requested to supply the 
words he desired to be inserted. The paragraph 
quoted was accordingly prepared by him and in- 
cluded in the Proclamation. This fact is also ad- 
mitted by Holland in his "Life of Lincoln" (p. 


Judge Weik, of Greencastle, Ind., who was asso- 
ciated with Mr. Herndon in the preparation of his 
" Life of Lincoln," in a lecture on " Lincoln's Bov- 


hood and Early Manhood," delivered in Plymouth 
Church, Indianapolis, Feb. 4, 1891. said : 

"As a young man he sat back of the country store 
stove and said the Bible was not inspired, and 



Christ was not the Son of God " (Indianapolis News, 
Feb. 5, '91). 


One of the last biographies of Lincoln that has 
appeared is " Abraham Lincoln The Liberator," 
written by Charles W. French. After citing with 
approval some of Mr. Herndon's statements regard- 
ing Lincoln's belief, Mr. French says : 

"The world was his [Lincoln's] church. His 
sermons were preached in kindly words and merciful 
deeds " (p. 91). 


I quote next from a monograph on " The Relig- 
ious Convictions of Abraham Lincoln," written by 
Cyrus O. Poole. Referring to Arnold's and Hol- 
land's biographies of Lincoln, Mr. Poole says : 

" Most sectarians now think, write, and act as if 
they had a copyright to apply ' Christian ' to every- 
thing good and God-like about this President ; yet 
no one presumed to call him a Christian until after 
his death. 

" It may be a soul-saving process like the ancient 
one of Pope Gregory in the sixth century. It is re- 
lated that one day he was meditating on an anecdote 
of the Pagan Emperor Tragan's having turned back, 
when at the head of his legions on his way to battle, 
to render justice to a poor widow who flung herself 


at his horse's feet. It seemed to Gregory that the 
soul of a prince so good could not be forever lost, 
Pagan though he was ; and he prayed for him, till a 
voice declared Tragan to have been saved through 
his intercession. And thus, through the prayer of a 
Christian Pope, a pagan of the first, was materialized 
into a Christian in the sixth century, and was, of 
course, transferred from hell to heaven. Now be- 
hold how a modern politician [Arnold] can play 
theologian in Christianizing Abraham Lincoln. 

"There is now hope for Benjamin Franklin, 
John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, as well as 
the chieftains, Bed Jacket, Tecumseh, and Black 

Respecting Lincoln's message to his dying father, 
Mr. Poole, himself a firm believer in the doctrine of 
immortality, says : 

" This prophetic affirmation of a continued exist- 
ence, is the only written evidence of his views on 
this momentous question that can be found." 

In addition to the above, I cull from the same 
work the following brief extracts : 

" He lived in a remarkably formative and pro- 
gressive period, and was in all matters fully abreast 
with his time. As a truthful thinker, he greatly ex- 
celled any of the statesmen of his day." 

" Lincoln, like Socrates, was a man so natural, so 
thoughtful, rational, and sagacious, that he clearly 




saw that the popular traditional theology of his day 
and age was not religion." 


A gentleman residing in Springfield, 111., who was 
intimately acquainted with Lincoln from the time he 
located in that city up to the time he removed to 
Washington, a period of nearly twenty-five years, in 
a letter dated Aug. 20, 1887, writes as follows : 

" I will say in regard to Mr. Lincoln's religious 
views that he was not orthodox in his belief, unless 
he changed after he left Springfield. He was hetero- 
dox did not believe in the divinity of Christ in 
short, was a Freethinker. Now I do not want to be 
brought into public notice in this matter." 

In deference to this writer's request his name is 
omitted, and this omission desti*O3's, to a greatextent. 
the value of his testimony. It is inserted not be- 
cause it adds any particular weight to the evidence 
already adduced, but as a specimen of a very large 
amount of evidence of the same character that must 
be withheld simply because the persons writing or 
interviewed shrink from publicity. A chapter, yes, a 
volume, of this anonymous testimony might be given. 
At least a hundred personal friends of Lincoln, living 
in and about Springfield, privately and confidentially 
assert that he was an Infidel, but will not permit 
their names to be used. Twenty years ago a majority 


of them would not have objected to their statements 
being published ; but the relentless war waged by 


the church against those who have publicly certified 


to the facts has sealed their lips. 




I now present to the reader another citizen of 
Springfield, one who is not afraid to publicly ex- 
press an honest opinion. Mr. Henry Walker, who 
has resided in that city for many years, writes as 
follows concerning Lincoln's religious belief : 

" After inquiring of those who were intimate and 
familiar with him, I arrive at the conclusion that he 
was a Deist." 

" There is a rumor current here that he once wrote 
an anti-Christian pamphlet, but his friends per- 
. suaded him not to publish it." 

Mr. Walker was not personally acquainted with 
Lincoln. His conclusion is simply based upon the 
information obtained from those who were ac- 
quainted with him. His statement, like the preced- 
ing one, is introduced not so much because of any 
especial value attaching to it as mere testimony, but 
because it fairly represents the common sentiment 
of those who have investigated this subject, and 
particularly those who are on familiar terms with 
Lincoln's old associates in Illinois. The knowledge 
of our anonymous witness was shared by Dr. Smith, 


Mr. Arnold, and Mr. Edwards ; the opinion ex- 
pressed by Mr. Walker was the opinion privately 
entertained by Dr. Holland, it is the opinion pri- 
vately entertained by Mr. Bateman, yes, and unques- 
tionably the opinion privately entertained by Mr. 
Reed himself. 


An article on Lincoln's religion written by Mr. 
Wm. Bissett, of Santa Ana, Cal., and recently pub- 
lished in the Truth Seeker, contains some evidence 
that deserves to be recorded. Mr. Bissett narrates 
the following : 

" In the Spring of 1859 we moved into Livingston 
county, Mo., near Chillicothe. We at once became 
acquainted with a man by the name of William 
Jeeter. Mr. Jeeter was a native of Kentucky, and if 
I mistake not, was born and raised in the same part 
of the country that Mr. Lincoln was but about that 
I am not sure. Mr. Jeeter told me that Lincoln and 
himself settled in Illinois when they were young 
men, and boarded together for a number of years. 
He says he knew every act of Lincoln's life up to 
the time he (Jeeter) left Illinois, a few years before 
Mr. Lincoln's nomination for the Presidency. I was 
helping Jeeter build a house for himself when we 
received the news of Mr. Lincoln's nomination ; that 
is why we came to speak so particularly about him. 



Mr. Jeeter told me that Mr. Lincoln was not a be- 
liever in the Christian religion ; that is, he did not 
believe the Bible was an inspired work, nor that 
Jesus Christ was the son of God. ' Nevertheless,' 
said Mr. Jeeter, ' he was one of the most honest men 
I ever knew. If I had a million dollars I wouldn't 
be afraid to trust it to Lincoln without the scratch 
of a pen, I know the man so well.' Mr. Jeeter was a 
strong believer in the Christian religion and a mem- 
ber of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, and a 
very fine and reliable man." 


The following is from an article on Lincoln by Mr. 
Frederick Heath, of Milwaukee, Wis. : 

" Two years ago I was associated with Major Geo. 
H. Norris, a wealthy orange-grower of Florida, in 
that state, and was in a degree his confidant. In 
earlier years, while a lawyer in Illinois, Major 
Norris (he was at one time mayor of Ottawa, 111.) 
was quite closely associated with Mr. Lincoln, and 
he gave me to understand that Mr. Lincoln was an 
extreme skeptic. They were thrown together a good 
deal at Springfield, where they were trying cases be- 
fore the supreme court. Lincoln would frequently 
keep them from sleep by his stories and arguments, 
and frequently spoke of religious matters in a way 
that showed he was convinced of the delusion 


of faith. I wish I could quote the Major's words as 
to Lincoln's remarks on religion, but will not venture 
to frame them, as this is a subject that demands 
truth and exactness." 


When Lincoln went to New York in the winter of 
1860, to deliver his Cooper Institute address, he had 
occasion to remain over Sunday in that city. At the 
suggestion of a friend, he visited the famous Five 
Points, and attended a Sunday-school where the 
spawn of New York's worst inhabitants to the num- 
ber of several hundred were assembled. Importuned 
for a speech, he made a few remarks to the children, 
and the fact was published in the papers. The idea 
of this Infidel politician addressing a Sunday-school 
was so ludicrous that it caused much merriment 
among his friends at Springfield. When he returned 
home one of them, probably Colonel Matheny, called 
on him to learn what it all meant. The conversation 
that followed, including Lincoln's explanation of the 
affair, is thus related by the noted preacher and 
author, Edward Eggleston : 

" He started for ' Old Abe's ' office ; but bursting 
open the door impulsively, found a stranger in con- 
versation with Mr. Lincoln. He turned to retrace 
his steps, when Lincoln called out, ' Jim ! What do 
you want ?' ' Nothing.' ' Yes, you do ; come back.' 



After some entreaty Jim approached Mr. Lincoln, 
and remarked, with a twinkle in his eye, 'Well, 
Abe, I see you have been making a speech to Sunday- 
school children. What's the matter ?' * Sit down, 
Jim, and I'll tell vou all about it.' And with that 


Lincoln put his feet on the stove and began : ' When 
Sunday morning came, I didn't know exactly what 
to do. Washburne asked me where I was going. I 
told him I had nowhere to go ; and he proposed to 
take me down to the Five Points Sunday-school, to 
show me something worth seeing. I was very much 
interested by what I saw. Presently, Mr. Pease 
came up and spoke to Mr. Washburne, who intro- 
duced me. Mr. Pease wanted us to speak. Wash- 
burne spoke, and then I was urged to speak. I told 
them I did not know anything about talking to Sun- 
day-schools, but Mr. Pease said many of the children 
were friendless and homeless, and that a few words 
would do them good. Washburne said I must talk. 
And so I rose to speak ; but I tell you, Jim, I didn't 
know what to say. I remembered that Mr. Pease 
said that they were homeless and friendless, and I 
thought of the time when I had been pinched by 
terrible poverty. And so I told them that I had 
been poor ; that I remembered when my toes stuck 
out through my broken shoes in winter ; when my 
arms were out at the elbows ; when I shivered with 
the cold, /A-^d 1 told them there was only one rule. 


That was, always do the very best you can. I told 
them that I had always tried to do the very best I 
could ; and that, if they would follow that rule, they 
would get along somehow. That was about 
what I said ' " (E very-Day Life of Lincoln, pp. 322, 


The foregoing is significant. Lincoln was not an 
advocate of Sunday-schools. He had probably never 
visited one before. As generally conducted, he re- 
garded them as simply nurseries of superstition. 
He could not indorse the religious ideas taught in 
them, and he was not there that day to antagonize 
them. As a consequence, this ready talker this 
man who had been making speeches all his life 
was, for the first time, at a loss to know what to say. 
He could not talk to them about the Bible he could 
not tell them that " it is the best gift which God 
has given to man " that " all the good from the 
Savior of the world is communicated to us through 
this book " that " but for this book we could not 
know right from wrong" he could not tell them 
how Jesus had died for little children, and all this, 
because. he did not believe it. But he obeyed his 
own life-long rule, did the best he could under the 
embarrassing circumstances, and gave them a little 
wholesome advice entirely free from the usual Sun- 
day-school cant. 





Robert Collyer states that Lincoln, just before he 
was elected President, visited the office of the 
Chicago Tribune, and picking up a volume of Theo- 
dore Parker's writings, turned to Dr. Ray and re- 
marked: " I think that I stand about where that man 


The lamented Allen Thorndike Eice, whose 
brilliant editorial management of the North American 
Revieiv has placed this periodical in the front rank 
of American magazines, in his Introduction to the 
" Reminiscences of Lincoln," says : 

" The Western settlers had no respect for English 
traditions, whether of Church or of State. Accus- 
tomed all their lives to grapple with nature face to 
face, they thought and they spoke, with all the bold- 
ness of unrestrained sincerity, on every topic of 
human interest or of sacred memory, without the 
slightest recognition of any right of external author- 
ity to impose restrictions, or even to be heard in 
protest against their intellectual independence. As 
their life developed the utmost independence of 
creed and individuality, he whose originality was 
the most fearless and self-contained was chief among 
them. Among such a people, blood of their blood 
and bone of their bone, differing from them only in 


stature, Abraham Lincoln arose to rule the American 
people with a more than kingly power, and received 
from them a more than feudal loyalty." 

So eager is the church for proofs of Lincoln's 
piety that the most incredible anonymous story in 
support of this claim is readily accepted and pub- 
lished by the religious press as authentic history. 
By this means the masses have gradually come to 
regard Lincoln as a devout Christian. It is evident 
that Mr. Bice had these fabulous tales in mind when 
he wrote the following : 

" Story after story and trait after trait, as varying 
in value as in authenticity, has been added to the 
Lincolniana, until at last the name of the great war 
President has come to be a biographic lodestone, 
attracting without distinction or discrimination both 
the true and the false." 


The noted author, Capt. Robert G. Adams, of 
Montreal, Can., says : 

" It is significant that in political revolution it is 
the Freethinker who is usually the leader. Franklin, 
Paine, Jefferson, Washington, were the chief found- 
ers of the American Republic, and Lincoln presided 
at its second birth. Mazzini and Garibaldi are the 
heroes of United Italy; Rousseau,Voltaire, and Victor 
Hugo have been the chief inspirers of Democratic 
France " (New Ideal), 



In the Westminster Review for September, 1891, 
Mr. Stanton had an article discussing the moral 
character and religious belief of Abraham Lincoln. 
Of his religious belief, he says : 

" If Lincoln had lived and died an obscure Spring- 
field lawyer and politician he would unquestionably 
have been classed by his neighbors among Free- 
thinkers. But, as is customary with the church, 
whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, when Lin- 
coln became oue of the great of the world an attempt 
was made to claim him. In trying to arrive at a 
correct comprehension of Lincoln's theology this 
fact should be borne in mind in sifting the testi- 

" Another very important warping influence which 
should not be lost sight of was Lincoln's early am- 
bition for political preferment. Now, the shrewd 
American politician with an elastic conscience joins 
some church, and is always seen on Sunday in the 
front pews. But the shrewd politician who has not 
an elastic conscience and this was Lincoln's case 
simply keeps mum on his religious views, or, when 
he must touch on the subject, deals only in 

After citing the testimony of many of Lincoln's 
friends, Mr. Stanton concludes : 


" A man about whose theology such things can be 
said is of course far removed from orthodoxy. It 
may even be questioned whether he is a Theist, 
whether he is a Deist. That he is a Freethinker is 
evident ; that he is an Agnostic is probable." 

GEO. M. M 

In the Open Court for Nov. 26, 1891, Mr. McCrie 
contributes an article on " What Was Abraham 
Lincoln's Creed?" Concerning Lincoln's allusions 
to God, he says : 

" A Deity thus shelved or not shelved, according 
to the dictates of political expediency, or of individ- 
ual opinion as to the ' propriety ' of either course is 
no Deity at all. He is as fictional as the 'John 
Doe ' or ' Richard Hoe ' of a legal writ, and anyone 
making use of such a creation the puppet, not the 
parent, of his own Egoity is supposed to know 
with what he is dealing. Orthodox religionism may 
well despair of Abraham Lincoln as of George 
Washington, Benjamin Franklin, or President 


Gen. Trumbull, of Chicago, in the Open Court of 
Dec. 3, 1891, writes : 

" The religion that begs the patronage of presi- 
dents doubts its own theology, for the true God 



needs not the favor of men. . . . Some of his 
[Lincoln's] tributes to Deity are merely rhetorical 
emphasis, but others were not. Cicero often swore 
* By Hercules/ as in the oration against Catiline, al- 
though he believed no more in Hercules than Abra- 
ham Lincoln believed in any church-made God." 


In a sermon on " Washington and Lincoln," the 
most eminent and popular divine of Chicago, Dr. 
Swing, said : 

" It is often lamented by the churchmen that 
Washington and Lincoln possessed little religion 
except that found in the word ' God.' All that can 
here be affirmed is that what the religion of those 
two men lacked in theological details it made up in 
greatness. Their minds were born with a love of 
great principles. . . . There are few instances 
in which a mind great enough to reach great 
principles in politics has been satisfied with a 
fanatical religion. ... It must not be asked 
for Washington and Lincoln that, having reached 
greatness in political principles, they should have 
loved littleness in piety." 


The Rev. J. Lloyd Jones, one of Chicago's most 
eloquent divines, in a sermon preached in All Souls 



Church, Dec. 9, 1888, gave utterance to the follow- 

"Are there not thousands who have loved virtue 
Tvho did not accept Jesus Christ in any supernatural 
or miraculous fashion, who if they knew of him at 
all knew of him only as the Nazarine peasant the 
man Jesus ? Such was Abraham Lincoln, the tender 
prophet of the gospel of good will upon earth ; 
Charles Sumner, the great apostle of human liberty ; 
Gerrit Smith, the St. John of political reform ; 
William Ellery Channing, our sainted preacher; 
Theodore Parker, the American Luther, hurling 
his defiance at the devils of bigotry ; John Stuart 
Mill and Harriet Martineau ves, to take an ex- 


treme case, the genial and over-satirical Robert G. 
Ingersoll, are among those who love goodness and 
foster nobility, though they have no clear vision 
into futurity and confess no other lordship in him of 
Nazareth save the dignity of aim and tenderness of 


In an address delivered in Tremont Temple, Bos- 
ton, May 30, 1872, the Eev. John W. Chadwick, of 
Brooklyn, N. Y., referring to the proposed religious 
amendment to the Constitution of the United States, 
said : 

"Of the six men who have done most to make 



America the wonder and the joy she is to all of us, 
not one could be the citizen of a government so con- 
stituted ; for Washington and Franklin and Jeffer- 
son, certainly the three mightiest leaders in our 
early history, were heretics in their day, Deists, as 
men called them ; and Garrison and Lincoln and 
Sumuer, certainly the three mightiest in these later 
times, would all be disfranchised by the proposed 


'" Lincoln could not have taken the oath of office 
had such a clause been in the Constitution." 




The Bible and Christianity Christ's Divinity Future Rewards and 
Punishments Freedom of Mind Fatalism Providence Lines in 
Copy-book Parker Paine Opposition of Church Clerical Officious- 
ness Rebuked Irreverent Jokes Profanity Temperance Reform In- 
dorsement of Lord Bolingbroke's Writings G-oldeu Rule. 

THE testimony of one hundred witnesses will now 
be supplemented by evidence from the tongue and 
pen of Lincoln himself. The greater portion of what 
he wrote and uttered against Christianity has 
perished ; but enough has been preserved to dem- 
onstrate, even in the absence of other evidence, 
that he was not a Christian. From his letters, 
speeches, and recorded conversations, the following 
radical sentiments have been extracted. 

Notwithstanding the efforts of Holland and Bate- 
man to prove that Lincoln was a believer in Chris- 
tianity, it is admitted that in his conversation with 
Bate man, he said : 

" I am not a Christian " (Holland's Life of Lincoln, 
pp. 236, 237). 


When his Christian friends at Petersburg inter- 
fered to prevent his proposed duel with Shields, and 
told him that it was contrary to the teachings of the 
Bible and Christianity, he remarked : 

" The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my 
profession " (Letter of W. Perkins). 

While at Washington, in a letter to his old friend, 
Judge Wakefield, written in 1862, in answer to inqui- 
ries respecting his belief and the expressed hope 
that he had become convinced of the truth of Chris- 
tianity, he replied as follows : 

"My earlier views of the unsoundness of the 
Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin 
of the Scriptures have become clearer and stronger 
with advancing years and I see no reason for think- 
ing I shall ever change them." 

In a discussion touching upon the paternity of 
Jesus, he said : 

" There must have been sexual intercourse between 
man and woman, and not between God and his 

The above words were uttered in the presence of 
Mr. Green Caruthers and Mr. W. A. Browning, of 

Lincoln contended that Jesus was either the son 
of Joseph and Mary, or the illegitimate son of 


In a conversation with his friend, Mr. E. H. 


Wood, of Springfield, concerning the doctrine of end- 
less punishment, he said : 

" There is no hell." 

In regard to this subject, he often observed : 

" If God be a just God, all will be saved or none " 
(Manford J s Magazine). 

The orthodox idea of God a God that creates 
poor, fallible beings, and then forever damns them 
for failing to believe what it is impossible for them 
to believe he abhorred. The Golden Eule was his 
moral standard, and bv this standard he measured 


not only the conduct of man, but of God himself. 
Like th^ irrepressible Dr. T. L. Brown, he wanted 
God to " damn others as he would be damned him- 
self." He delighted to repeat the epitaph of the old 
Kickapoo Indian, Johnnie Kongapod : 

" Here lies poor Johnnie Kongapod; 
Have mercy on him, gracious God, 
As he would do if he were God 
And you were Johnnie Kongapod." 

Lincoln thought that God ought at least to be as 
merciful as a respectable savage. 

M:i!iy contend that the doctrine of future rewards 


and punishments, even if untrue, has a restraining 
influence upon the masses of mankind. That Lin- 
coln did not share this fallacious opinion, is shown 
by the following extract from an address delivered 
in Springfield in 1842 : 



" Pleasures to be enjoyed, or pains to be endured, 
after we shall be dead and gone, are but little re- 
garded. . . . There is something so ludicrous, 
in promises of good, or threats of evil, a great way 
off, as to render the whole subject with which they 

are connected, easily turned into ridicule. * Better 


lay down that spade you're stealing, Paddy if you 
don't, you'll pay for it at the Day of Judgment.' 
1 Be the powers, if ye'll credit me so long I'll take 
another* ' (Lincoln Memorial Album, p. 91). 

Commenting upon the question of one's returning 
and communicating with his friends after death, he 
observed : 

" It is a doubtful question whether we ever get 
anywhere to get back' 1 (Statement of E. H. Wood). 

He did not believe in the freedom of the will. 
An observation which he repeatedly made was the 
following : 

" No man has a freedom of mind " (Testimony of 
W. H. Herndon). 

His fatalistic notions are confirmed by his own 
words : 

" I have all my life been a fatalist. What is to be 
will be ; or, rather, I have found all my life, as 
Hamlet says : 

1 There's a divinity that shapes our ends, 
Rough-hew them how we will.' " 

(Every-Day Life of Lincoln, p. 198). 


The following was a favorite maxim with him : 

" What is to be will be, and no prayers of ours can 
arrest the decree " (Statement of Mrs. Lincoln). 

In a speech on Kansas, delivered in 1856, he used 
the following words in regard to Providence : 

" Friends, I agree with you in Providence ; but I 
believe in the Providence of the most men, the 
largest purse, and the longest cannon" (Lincoln's 
Speeches, p. 140). 

The writer has in his possession, among others of 
Lincoln's papers, a leaf from his copybook, tattered 
and yellow from age, on which, seventy years ago, 
Lincoln, a school-boy of fourteen, wrote the follow- 
ing characteristic lines : 

" Abraham Lincoln, his hand and pen ; 
He will be good, but God knows when." 

If by good he meant pious, the prophecy was never 

But a short time before he was elected President, 
he said to Dr. Bay : 

" I think that I stand about where that man [Theo- 
dore Parker] stands" (Statement of Rev. Robert 

The author whose writings exerted the greatest 
influence upon Lincoln's mind, in a theological way, 
was Thomas Paine. Ah! that potential "Age of 
Reason! " Criticise it as you may, no one ever yet 


carefully perused its pages and then honestly affirmed 
that the Bible is the infallible word of God. Hern- 
don and others declare that Paine was a part of 
Lincoln from 1834 till his death. To a friend he 
said : 

" I never tire of reading Paine " (Statement of 
James Tuttle). 

In the later years of his life, when the subject of 
religion was mentioned, with a knowing smile, he 
was wont to remark : 

" It will not do to investigate the subject of relig- 
ion too closely, as it is apt to lead to Infidelity " 
(Manford's Magazine). 

It has been stated that Lincoln was opposed in 
his political campaigns on account of his disbelief. 
This is confirmed by a letter he wrote to Martin M. 
Morris, of Petersburg, 111., March 26, 1843. In this 
letter, he says : 

"There was, too, the strangest combination of 
church influence against me. Baker is a Campbell- 
ite ; and therefore, as I suppose, with few exceptions, 
got all that church. My wife has some relatives in 
the Presbyterian churches, and some with the Epis- 
copal churches ; and therefore, wherever it would 
tell, I was set down as either the one or the other, 
while it was everywhere contended that no Christian 
ought to go for me, because I belonged to no church 
was suspected of being a Deist. . . . Those 


influences levied a tax of a considerable per cent upon 
my strength throughout the religious controversy ' 
(Lamon's Life of Lincoln, p. 271). 

He never changed his opinions, and the church 
never ceased to oppose him. In the Bateman inter- 
view, seventeen years later, he was compelled to note 
its relentless intolerance : 

" Here are twenty-three ministers of different de- 
nominations, and all of them are against me but 
three ; and here are a great many prominent mem- 
bers of the churches, a very large majority of whom 
are against me " (Holland's Life of Lincoln, p. 236). 

For thirty years the church endeavored to crush 
Lincoln, but when, in spite of her malignant opposi- 
tion, he achieved a glorious immortality, this same 
church, to hide the mediocrity of her devotees, at- 
tempts to steal his deathless name. 

In a speech delivered in Springfield, in ' 1857, 
alluding to the negro, he said : 

" All the powers of the earth seem rapidly combin- 
ing against him. Mammon is after him, . . . 
and the theology of the day is fast joining in the 
cry' (Lincoln Memorial Album, p. 100). 

The theology of the day was orthodox Christian- 
ity. " In this sentence," says Mr. Herndon, " he in- 
tended to hit Christianity a left-handed blow, and a 
hard one." 

In his Second Inaugural address, referring to the 


contending Christian elements in the civil war, he 

" Both read the same Bible and pray to the same 
God, and each invokes his aid against the other." 

What a commentary upon the hypocritical assump- 
tion that Christians possess an infallible moral 
standard, is contained in the above words ! 

'The'" Lincoln Memorial Album " pretends to give 
the Second Inaugural complete, but omits the words 
quoted. As this address comes almost immediately 
after 'his reputed speech to the " Illinois clergyman," 
the editor probably noticed a lack of harmony be- 
tween the two, and thought that the retention oi 
these heretical words would cast suspicion upon the 
genuineness of that remarkable confession. The 
"Memorial Album " is a meritorious work, but had 
Mr. Oldroyd manifested as great a desire to present 
the genuine utterances of Lincoln as the apocryphal, 
its value would have been enhanced. The nn muti- 
lated version of the last Inaugural may be found in 
Holland's " Life of Lincoln," pp. 503, 504 ; Arnold's 
" Life of Lincoln," pp. 403, 404 ; Arnold's " Lincoln 
and Slavery," pp. 625-627 ; and " The Every-Day 
Life of Lincoln," pp. 681, 682. 

No President, probably, was ever so much annoyed 
by the clergy as Lincoln. The war produced an in- 
creased religious fervor, and theological tramps in- 
numerable, usually labeled " D. P.," visited the 


White House, each with a mission to perform and a 
precious morsel of advice to offer. In the following 
caustic words, he expresses his contempt for their 
officiousness : 

" I am approached with the most opposite opinions 
and advice, and by religious men who are certain 
they represent the Divine will. ... I hope it 
will not be irreverent in me to say, that if it be 
probable that God would reveal his will to others, 
on a point so connected with my duty, it might be 
supposed he would reveal it directly to me " (Eelig- 
ious Convictions of Abraham Lincoln). 

Equally pertinent, and, indeed, similar was his 
language to a pious lady, a Friend, who came as 
God's agent to instruct him what to do : 

" I have neither time nor disposition to enter into I 
discussion with the Friend, and end this occasion 
by suggesting for her consideration the question, 
whether, if it be true that the Lord has appointed 
me [she claimed that he had] to do the works she 
has indicated, it is not probable that he would have 
communicated knowledge of the fact to me as well 
as to her?" (E very-Day Life of Lincoln, pp. 536, 
537). J 

He steadily prohibited his generals from meddling 
with the religious affairs of those residing within the 
limits of their respective departments, and at the 
same time counseled them not to permit the pre- 



tended sanctity of the church to shield offenders 
from justice. 

In a letter to General Curtis, censuring the pro- 
vost marshal of St. Louis for interfering with church 
matters, he writes : 

" The United States Government must not under- 
take to run the churches. When an individual in 
a church, or out of it, becomes dangerous to the 
public interest he must be checked " (Nicolay and 
Hay's Life of Lincoln). 

In an order relating to a church in Memphis, 
issued May 13, 1864, he said : 

" If there be no military need for the building, 
leave it alone, neither putting any one in or out of 
it, except on finding some one preaching or practic- 
ing treason, in which case lay hands upon him, just 
as if he were doing the same thing in any other 
building" (Ibid). 

During the war his attention was called to the 
notoriously bad character of army chaplains. He 
expressed his contempt for them, and for orthodox 
preachers generally, by relating the following story : 
f " Once, in Springfield, I was going off on a short 
journey, and reached the depot a little ahead of 
time. Leaning against the fence just outside the 
depot was a little darky boy, whom I knew, named 
Dick, busily digging with his toe in a mud-puddle. 
As I came up, I said, ' Dick, what are you about ? 


' Making a church,' said he. ' A church ?' said I ; 
'what do you mean?' 'Why, yes/ said Dick, point- 
ing with his toe, * don't you see ? there is the shape 
of it ; there's the steps and front door here's the 
pews, where the folks set and there's the pulpit.' 
* Yes, I see,' said I, ' but why don't you make a 
minister ?' ' Laws,' answered Dick, with a grin, * I 
hain't got mud enough ' " (Anecdotes of Lincoln, p. . 
86). ' 

The most highly aristocratic church in Washing- 
ton is St. John's Episcopal church, So very aristo- 
cratic is it that applicants for membership deem it 
necessary to give references respecting their social 
standing in the community. The New York Star 
relates the following joke which Lincoln once perpe- 
trated at the expense of this church : 

" One day during the war a young officer called on 
him to secure an appointment in the army, and 
brought with him letters of recommendation signed 
by the F. F. V.'s in the District of Columbia. There 
had been no application for office before President 
Lincoln so strongly supported by the aristocracy, 
and, turning to the young man, he said he would 
give him the appointment and handed him back the 
papers. * Don't you want to place the papers on 
file ?' asked the office-seeker. ' I supposed that was 
the custom.' ' Yes, that is the custom,' said Presi- 
dent Lincoln, 'but you had better take them 



with you, as you might want to join St. John's 
church. 1 " 

Did Lincoln ever use profane language ? If he 
did, this fact will afford no evidence to Freethinkers 
that he was a disbeliever in Christianity. Free- 
thinkers are as free from this vice, if vice it be, as 
Christians. Very pious persons, however, such as 
Lincoln is represented to have been by his Christian 
biographers, are very careful about their use of pro- 
fane words. Christ commanded his "followers to 
pray in private, and bade them swear not at all. 
Devout Christians usually pray in public and swear 
in private. Lincoln was but little addicted to pro- 
fanity, but if he had occasion to use a word of this 
character he did not go to his closet to use it. In a 
business letter to a friend, he said : 

"Ad d hawk-billed Yankee is here besetting 

me at every turn " (Lamon's Life of Lincoln, p. 316). 

In a letter to Speed, concerning an alleged murder 
case, he wrote : 

" Hart, the little drayman that hauled Molly 

home once, said it was too damned bad to have so 


much trouble and no hanging " (Ibid, p. 321). 

For the sake of pleasing the " fools," he attached 
Ms signature to " the pious nonsense of Seward." 
With equal readiness he indorsed the profane non- 
sense (?) of Stanton. During the war the patriotic 
Lovejoy had devised a military scheme which he 


believed would prove beneficial to the Union cause, 
and obtained an order from the President for its 
execution. He took the order to Stanton, but all 
that ever resulted from it was the following spirited 
colloquy : 

4. / 

" * Did Lincoln give you an order of that kind ?' 

said Staiiton. 4 He did, sir.' * Then he is a d d 

fool/ said the irate Secretary. 'Do you mean to 

say the President is a d d fool?' asked Lovejoy, 

in amazement. 'Yes, sir, if he gave you such an 
order as that.' The bewildered Illinoisan betook 
himself at once to the President, and related the 

j v 

result of his conference. " Did Stanton say I was a 

d d fool ?' asked Lincoln at the close of the 

recital. 'He did, sir, and repeated it.' After a 
moment's pause, and looking up, the President said : 

' If Stanton said I was a d d fool, then / must be 

one, for he is nearly always right, and generally says 
what he means ' " (Every-Day Life of Lincoln, pp. 
483, 484). 

At a Cabinet meeting, in 1863, when a conflict 
between the President and Congress regarding the 
admission of certain representatives from loyal dis- 
tricts of the South, which he favored, was threat- 
ened, he turned to Secretary Chase, and exclaimed : 

" There it is, sir. I am to be bullied by Congress, 
ami? If I do I'll bed d !" 

When Lincoln visited New Orleans he attended a 


slave sale. A beautiful girl, almost white, was placed 
upon the auction block and exposed to the grossest 
indignities. As he turned to leave, boiling with 
indignation, he exclaimed : 

" By God, if I ever get a chance to hit that insti- 
tution, I will hit it hard " (Arnold's Life of Lincoln, 

Thirty years later the chance came. He struck 
the blow a mortal one. 

The following is a prayer which Lincoln, while at 
the White House, put into the mouth of a belated 
traveler who was caught in a violent thunder- 
storm : 

" O Lord, if it is all the same to you, give us a 
little more light and a little less noise !" (Six Months 
at the White House, p. 49). 

Is it possible that a Christian and a Calvinist 
would repeat such an irreverent, not to say blas- 
phemous, supplication ? According to the Brooklyn 
Calvinist, God visits such supplicants with paralysis 
and petrifaction. 

Like most Freethinkers, Lincoln was a genuine 
reformer. The Antislavery reform was not the only 
reform that enlisted his support. At an early day 
he espoused the Temperance cause. When the 
church was the ally of intemperance as it was of 
slavery when, to use his own words, " From the 
sideboard of the parson down to the ragged pocket 



of the houseless loafer intoxicating liquor was con- 
stantly found," he was laboring and lecturing in 
behalf of the Washingtonian movement. With the 
fervor of an enthusiast, he exclaims in true Free- 
thought language : 

" Happy day, when, all appetites controlled, all 
passions subdued, all matter subjugated, mind, all- 
conquering mind, shall live and move, the monarch 
of the world ! Glorious consummation ! Hail, fall 
of fury ! Reign of Reason, all hail /" (Lincoln Me- 
morial Album, p. 96). 

To sumptuary laws and to the denunciatory 
methods so common among orthodox Christians 
to-day, he was, however, strenuously opposed. He 

"It is not much in the nature of man to be driven 
to anything ; still less to be driven about that which 
is exclusively his own business" (Ibid, p. 86). 

" When the conduct of men is designed to be in- 
fluenced, persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion, 
should ever be adopted " (Ib., p. 87). 

His nephew, Mr. Hall, informed me that Lincoln 
once made it cost a meddlesome clergyman, of Coles 
County, eighty dollars for seizing and destroying a 
quart of whisky, valued at twelve and a half cents, 
and belonging to a relative of theirs. 

In this chapter I wish to present some radical 
thoughts, not from the pen of Lincoln himself, but 


which in the work from which they are taken bear 
unmistakable signs of his approval. Mr. D. W. C. 
Shattuck, an old and respected merchant of Way- 
land, Mich., has in his possession a book which be- 
longed to Lincoln. Its history is as follows : Shortly 
after Lincoln's election to the Presidency a young 
man from Springfield, 111., and a relative or intimate 
acquaintance of Lincoln's, came to board with Mr. 
Shattuck, who then resided in Kalamazoo. Looking 
over the contents of his trunk one day the young 
man picked up a book and at the same time 
remarked : " That book belongs to Abe Lincoln. I 
forgot to return it to him before leaving Springfield. 
It is his favorite book, and I must not fail to return 
it." Mr. Shattuck expressing a desire to peruse the 
work, it was handed to him, and the young man 
being soon after unexpectedly called away, it was 
forgotten. It proved to be a volume of the writings 
of Lord Bolingbroke, the great English Infidel. On 
a fly-leaf was the signature of Abraham Lincoln. In 
the work certain passages which seem to have espe- 
cially impressed Lincoln are marked with a pencil 
and in a manner peculiar to him. The following are 
the passages he marked, which I have copied from 
the book, and which evidently received his unquali- 
fied indorsement : 

"Abbadie says in his famous book, that the 
(gospel of St. Matthew is cited by Clemens Bishop 


of Borne, a disciple of the Apostles ; that Barnabas 
cites it in his epistle ; that Ignatius and Poly carp 
receive it ; and that the same Fathers, that give 
testimony for Matthew, give it likewise for Mark. 
Nay, your lordship will find, I believe, that the 
present Bishop of London, in his third pastoral 
letter, speaks to the same effect. I will not trouble 
you nor myself with any more instances of the same 
kind. Let this, which occurred to me as I was writ- 
ing, suffice. It may well suffice ; for I presume the 
fact advanced by the minister and the Bishop is :i 
mistake. If the Fathers of the First Century do 
mention some passages that are agreeable to what 
we read in our Evangelists, will it follow that these 
Fathers had the same gospels before them ? To say 
so is a manifest abuse of history, and quite inex- 
cusable in writers that knew, or should have known, 
that these Fathers made use of other gospels, 
wherein such passages might be contained, or they 
might be preserved in unwritten tradition. Besides 
which I could almost venture to affirm that these 
Fathers of the First Century do not expressly name 
the gospels we have of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 



" Writers of the Roman religion have attempted to 
show, that the text of the Holy Writ is on many ac- 
counts insufficient to be the sole criterion of ortho- 
doxy ; I apprehend too that they have shown it. 


Sure I am that experience, from the first promulga- 
tion of Christianity to this hour, shows abundantly 
with how much ease and success the most opposite, 
the most extravagant, nay the most impious opinions, 
and the most contradictory faiths, may be founded 
on the same text ; and plausibly defended by the 
same authority. Writers of the Reformed religion 
have erected their batteries against tradition ; and 
the only difficulty they had to encounter in this 
enterprise lay in leveling and pointing their cannon 
so as to avoid demolishing, in one common ruin, the 
traditions they retain, and those they reject. Each 
side has been employed to weaken the cause and ex- 
plode the system of his adversary ; and, whilst they 
have been so employed, they have jointly laid their 
axes to the root of Christianity ; for thus men will 

be apt to reason upon what they have advanced. ' If 


the text has not that authenticity, clearness, and 
precision which are necessary to establish it as a 
divine and a certain rule of faith and practice ; and 
if the tradition of the church from the first ages of it 
till the days of Luther and Calvin, has been 
corrupted itself, and has served to corrupt the faith 
and practice of Christians ; there remains at this time 
no standard at all of Christianity. By consequence 
either this religion was not originally of divine in- 
stitution, or else God has not provided effectually for 
preserving the genuine purity of it, and the gates of 



hell have prevailed, in contradiction to his promise, 
against the church.' " 


" I have read somewhere, perhaps in the works of 
St. Jerome, that this Father justifies the opinion of 
those who think it impossible to fix any certain 
chronology on that of the Bible ; and this opinion 
will be justified still better, to the understanding of 
every man that considers how grossly the Jews 
blunder whenever they meddle with chronology." 

" The resurrection of letters was a fatal period ; the 
Christian system has been attacked, and wounded 
too, very severely since that time." 

When interrogated as to why he had never united 
with any church, Lincoln replied : 

" When you show me a church based on the Golden 
Rule as its only creed, then I will unite with it." 

He never joined a church, because of all the Chris- 
tian sects, not one could show such a creed. The 
Golden Rule conceding to others the same rights 
he claimed for himself was, however, the very 
cornerstone of Freethought, and hence he remained 
a Freethinker. 







Character of Christian Testimony Summary of Evidence Adduced 
in Proof of Lincoln's Unbelief ouglas an Unbeliever Theodore 
Parker's Theology Fallacy of (Maims Respecting Lincoln's Reputed 
Conversion His Invocations of Deity His Alleged Regard for the 
Sabbath The Church and Hypocrisy Lincoln's Religion. 

IN the prosecution of this inquiry, the testimony 
of one hundred and twenty witnesses has been pre- 
sented. The testimony of twenty of these witnesses 
is to the effect that Lincoln was a Christian ; the 
testimony of one hundred is to the effect that he was 

Of those who have testified in support of the claim 
that Lincoln was a Christian, ten admit that during 
a part of his life he was a disbeliever in Christianity, 
while not one of the remaining ten disputes the fact. 
If he never changed his belief then he died an unbe- 
liever. Did he change his belief and become a con- 
vert to Christianity ? It devolves upon those who 
affirm that he did to prove it. ^Have they done this ? 
They have not. Their attempts have been in every 
instance pitiable failures. The unreasonable and 


conflicting character of the testimony adduced 
refutes itself. When was he converted? No less 
than five different dates have been assigned. One 
witness states that it was in 1848 ; one, that it was 
in 1858 ; another, that it was in 1862 ; another, that 
it was in July, 1863 ; and still another, that it was 
in November, 1863. 


The remarkable character of the statements re- 
corded in Chapter I. remarkable when compared 
with the statements given in the preceding ten chap- 
ters, and not less remarkable when compared with 
each other may be variously accounted for. A 
part of them are based upon a false premise, an 
erroneous conception of what the term Christian 
means ; a portion of them are merely the expressions 
of beliefs unsupported by actual knowledge ; while 
a not inconsiderable share of them are the state- 
ments of those who have knowingly and deliberately 
borne false witness. These witnesses comprise : 1. 
Those who do not know what constitutes a Christian 
who confound Christianity with morality who 
affirm that he was a Christian simply because he 
was a moral man. 2. Those who do not know what 
his religious views were, but who infer that he was 
a Christian because others have declared that he 
was, and because of the frequent allusions to Deity 
that occur in his speeches and state papers. 3. 
Those who know that he was not a Christian, but 


who believe it to be right and proper to lie for the 
glory of Christianity and the profit of its priests. 

The testimony advanced in support of the claim of 
Lincoln's Christianity is, for the most part, the testi- 
mony of orthodox Christians a majority of them 
orthodox clergymen. Dr. Holland, the chief of these 
Christian claimants, says : " The fact is a matter of 
history that he never exposed his own religious life 
to those who had no sympathy with it." This, so 
far as the later years of his life are concerned, is 
substantially true ; and this very fact precludes the 
possibility of these orthodox witnesses being able to 
state from personal knowledge what his religious 
views were. 

In refutation of this claim, I have presented the 
testimony of those who were nearest to Lincoln, in 
the confidential relations of life. I have presented 
the testimony of his wife, the testimony of his step- 
mother, the testimony of his step-sister, the testi- 
mony of his cousin, the testimony of his nephew, 
the testimony of his three law partners, the testi- 
mony of four members of his Cabinet, the testimony 
of his private secretary, the testimony of his exec- 
utor, the testimony of seven of his biographers, and 
the testimony of many more of his most intimate 
friends both in Illinois and at Washington. 

That he was not an orthodox Christian, as claimed, 
is attested by nearly all of the one hundred witnesses 


whose testimony has been given ; that he was not in 
any sense of the term a Christian is proved by the 
testimony of a majority of them. 

I affirmed that he was not religious in his youth 
that he was a skeptic in Indiana. In proof of this I 
have adduced the testimony of his step-mother, 
Sarah Lincoln ; his step-sister, Matilda Moore ; his 
cousin, Dennis F. Hanks ; his nephew, John Hall; 
his law partner, W. H. Herndon, and his biographer, 
Col. Ward H. Lamon. 

I affirmed that he was an Infidel or Freethinker, 
during the thirty years that he resided in Illinois. 
In support of this I have given the testimony of 
Colonel Lamon, W. H. Herndon, Maj. John T. 
Stuart, Col. James H. Matheny, Dr. C. H. Kay, W. 
H. Hannah, James W. Keys, Jesse W. Fell, Judge 

r ~~ 

David Davis, Wm. McNeely, Mr. Lynan, Wm. G. 
Green, Joshua F. Speed, Green Caruthers, Squire 
Perkins, Judge Gillespie, John Decamp, James 
Gorley, Dr. Wm. Jayne, Jesse K. Dubois, Judge 
Logan, Leonard Swett, W. H. T. Wakefield, D. W. 
Wilder, Dr. B. F. Gardner, J. K. Vandemark, Judge 
Leachman, Orin B. Gould, Edward Butler, M. S. 

Go win, J. H. Che nery, J. B.'Spalding, Ezra String- 

ham, Col. E. G. Ingersoll, A. Jeffrey, Dr. McNeal, 
Charles McGrew, J. L. Morrell, Judge A. D. Norton, 
W. W. Perkins, H. K. Magie, James Tuttle, Leonard 
Volk, Col. F. S. Rutherford, E. H. Wood, Dr. 


J. J. Thomson, A. J. Grover, Judge Nelson, and 

I affirmed that he did not change his belief after 
leaving Illinois that he was not converted to Chris- 
tianity at Washington that he died an unbeliever. 
In confirmation of this I have presented the testi- 
mony of his wife, Mary Lincoln ; of his private 
secretary, Colonel Nicolay ; of his executor, Judge 
Davis ; of his biographer, Colonel Lamon ; and of his 
intimate associates, Geo. W. Julian, John B. Alley, 
Schuyler Colfax, Hugh McCulloch, A. J. Grover, 
Donn Piatt, Judge Nelson, and others. 

Many of these witnesses simpty testify to his dis- 
belief in the Christian svstem as a whole without 


reference to his particular views concerning its in- 
dividual tenets. Every statement of his unbelief as 
presented in the Introduction has, however, been 
substantiated by the testimony of one or more wit- 

That he did not believe in the Christian Deity, 
that he even held Agnostic and Atheistic views, at 
times, is proved by the testimony of W. H. Herndon, 
Colonel Matheny, Judge Nelson, Jesse K. Dubois, 
and D. W. Wilder. 

That he was an Agnostic in regard to the immor- 
tality of the soul is attested by E. H. Wood, Judge 
^Nelson, and W. H. Herndon. 

That he did not bejieya that the Bible is the word 


of God is affirmed by Colonel Lamon, John T. 
Stuart, Judge Matheny, W. H. Herndon, Jesse W. 
Fell, Dennis Hanks, W. Perkins, Colonel Ruther- 
ford, and Chambers' Encyclopedia. 

That he did not believe that Jesus Christ was the 
son of God is affirmed by Colonel Lamon, W. H. 
Herndon, Jesse W. Fell, Colonel Mathenv. John T. 

I / 7 

Stuart, Jas. W. Keys, Judge Nelson, D. W. Wilder, 
Green Caruthers, Colonel Rutherford, Rev. J. Lloyd 
Jones, Chambers' Encyclopedia, and the New York 

That he did not believe in a special creation, the 
statements of Mr. Herndon clearly prove. 

That he accepted the theory of Evolution, so far 
as this theory had been developed in the " Vestiges 
of Creation" and other writings of his day, is at- 
tested by the same witness. 


That he did not admit the possibility of miracles 
is confirmed bv the statement of Jesse W. Fell. W. 

/ / 

Perkins, Dennis Hanks, and Mr. Herndon. 

That he rejected the Christian doctrine of total or 
inherent depravity, William McNeely and Jesse W. 
Fell affirm. 

That he repudiated the doctrine of vicarious atone- 
ment is sustained by the testimony of Jesse W. Fell, 
Joshua F. Speed, W. Perkins, and Colonel Lamon. 

That he condemned the doctrine of forgiveness for 
sin, General Wilder and Mr. Herndon both testify. 


That he opposed the doctrine of future rewards 
and punishments, Wm. H. Hannah, E H. Wood, A. 
Jeffrey, Jesse W. Fell, and Manford's Magazine, all 

That he denied the freedom of the will, Mr. Hern- 
don explicitly affirms. 

That he did not believe in the efficacy of prayer is 
fully established by the evidence of Mrs. Lincoln, 
Mr. Herndon, and Dr. Gardner. 


That he was a disciple of Thomas Paine and 
Theodore Parker is shown by the evidence of Colo- 
nelLamon, W. H. Herndon, James Tuttle, Jesse W. 

Fell, Dr. Kay, Kobert Collyer, the New York World, 


and Chambers' Encyclopedia. 

That he wrote a book against Christianity is sus- 
tained by the testimony of Colonel Matheny, Judge 
Nelson, W. H. Herndon, Colonel Lamon, J. B. 
Spalding, A. Jeffrey, J. H. Chenery, Chicago Herald, 
Manford's Magazine, and Chambers' Encyclopedia. 
' That Lincoln did not believe in the inspiration of 
the Scriptures, that he did not believe in the divin- 
ity of Christ, that he did not believe in the freedom 
of the will, that he did not believe in future rewards 
and punishments, that he did not believe in the effi- 
cacy of prayer, that he was, in short, a disbeliever in 
Christianity, is also attested by the evidence cited 
from his own recorded words. 
In connection with this controversy the signiil- 


cance of the following facts cannot be overlooked : 
1. Notwithstanding the strong temptation to credit 
Lincoln to the popular faith, a majority of his biog- 
raphers have either declared that he was not a 
Christian, or have refrained from affirming that he 
was. 2. The secular press, fearing to offend the 
church, has generally been silent regarding the 
question. When it has ventured to express an 
opinion, however, it has been to concede his un- 
belief. 3. The leading encyclopedias, such as the 
Britannica, Chambers', New American, etc., have 
either admitted that he was a Freethinker, or have 
made no reference to his religious belief. 4. In the 
" Lincoln Memorial Album ' appear two hundred 
tributes to Lincoln, the greater portion of them 
from the pens of Christians. In but two of these 
two hundred tributes is it claimed that Lincoln was 
a believer in Christianity. 5. The " Reminiscences 
of Lincoln " contain thirty- three articles on Lincoln, 
written by as many distinguished men who were 
acquainted with him. In not a single instance in 
this work, is it asserted that he was a Christian. 6. 
In none of the leading eulogies pronounced upon 
his character, at the time of his demise, is it affirmed 
that he accepted Christ. 

It is stated that during the last years of his life 
Lincoln held substantially the same theological 
opinions held by Theodore Parker. His own words 



are, referring to Parker : "I think that I stand 
about where that man stands." Where did Theo- 
dore Parker stand ? The following extracts from 
his writings will show : 

" To obtain a knowledge of duty, a man is not 
sent away, outside of himself, to ancient documents ; 
for the only rule of faith and practice, the Word, is 
very nigh him, even in his heart, and by this Word 
he is to try all documents." 

" There is no intercessor, angel, mediator, between 
man and God ; for man can speak and God hear, 
each for himself. He requires no advocates to plead 
for men." 

" Manly, natural religion it is not joining the 
church ; it is not to believe in a creed Hebrew, 
Christian, Catholic, Protestant, Trinitarian, Uni- 
tarian, Nothingarian. It is not to keep Sunday 
idle ; to attend meeting ; to be wet with water ; to 
read the Bible; to offer prayers in words; to take 
bread and wine in the meeting-house ; love a scape- 
. goat Jesus, or any other theological claptrap." 
^ If Lincoln was known to be a Freethinker, it may 
be asked why this fact was not more generally pub- 
lished and urged against him during the Presidential 
campaign of 1860. The answer is easy. His chiei 

opponent, Douglas, was himself a Freethinker. 
Stephen A. Douglas, like Abraham Lincoln, died an 
unbeliever. Like Washington, he declined the serv- 


ices of a clergyman in his last hours. The follow- 
ing is an extract from a monograph on "The 
Deathbed of Douglas," published in the Boston 
Budget : 

" When Stephen A. Douglas lay stricken with 
death at Chicago, his wife, who was a devout Roman 
Catholic, sent for Bishop Duggan, who asked 
whether he had ever been baptized according to the 
rites of any church. * Never,' replied Mr. Douglas. 
' Do you desire to have mass said after the ordi- 
nances of the holy Catholic church ?' inquired the 
Bishop. ' No, sir F answered Douglas ; * when I do 
I will communicate with you freely.' 

"The Bishop withdrew, but the next day Mrs. 
Douglas sent for him again, and, going to the bed- 
side, he said : * Mr. Douglas, you know your own 
condition fully, and in view of your dissolution do 
you desire the ceremony of extreme unction to be 
performed ?' ' No !' replied the dying man, * I have 
no time to discuss these things now.' 

" The Bishop left the room, and Mr. Rhodes, who 
was in attendance, said : * Do you know the clergy- 
men of this city?' ~* Nearly every one of them.' 
' Do you wish to have either or any of them call to 
see you to converse on religious topics ?' ' No, I 
thank you,' was the decided answer." 

Among America's most eminent statesmen none 
probably ever possessed a more logical mind than 


Lincoln. Judge Davis says : " His inind was logical 
and direct." James G. Blaine says : " His logic was 
severe and faultless." George S. Boutwell says : 
u He takes rank with the first logicians and orators 
of every age." In his funeral oration at Springfield, 
Bishop Simpson said : t 

" If you ask me on what mental characteristic his 
greatness rested, I answer, on a quick and ready 
perception of facts ; on a memory unusually tenacious 
and retentive ; and on a logical turn of mind, which 
followed sternly and unwaveringly every link in the 
chain of thought on every subject he was called to 

Lincoln was once called to investigate the subject 
of Christianity. He " followed sternly and unwaver- 
ingly every link in the chain of thought ' suggested 

by this subject, and the result was its rejection by 


If he was subsequently converted to Christianity, 
it was only after a re examination and a thorough and 
exhaustive investigation of its claims. This his 
friends positively state never took place, and the 
circumstances associated with each and every period 
assigned for his reputed conversion confirm their 
statements. In 1848 he was a member of Congress, 
his mind absorbed with the novelties, the duties, and 
the aspirations that usually attend a first term in 
this important capacity. In 1858, and for years pre- 


ceding and following, the great political questions of 
the day occupied his mind. He was engaged in a 
mortal struggle with one of the most powerful intel- 
lectual athletes of his time. He was contending with 
Douglas for a prize, and that prize was the Presi- 
dency. He must be ever on the alert. He must 
crush his antagonist or his antagonist would crush 
him. Think of Lincoln sitting down in the very 
crisis of this conflict and engaging in the study of 
theology ! In 1862, and 1863, the other years as- 
signed for his conversion, he was in the midst of the 
great Rebellion, all his thoughts and all his energies 
enlisted in the mighty task of saving the Union. 

That Lincoln was a Freethinker in Illinois, that 
he was for a time a zealous propagandist of his faith, 
that he was instrumental in making unbelievers of 
many of his associates, it is useless to deny. If he 
was afterward converted to Christianity, his friends 
were ignorant of his conversion. He failed to notify 
them of his previous mistake and warn them of their 
impending danger. If it could be shown that he re- 
nounced his former views and became a Christian, 
this fact would be one of the most damaging argu- 
ments against Christianity that could be advanced. 
As a Freethinker he was one of the most tender and 
humane of men, ever solicitous for the welfare of his 
fellow-beings. Did Christianity transform him into 
a selfish, heartless being, who coolly disregarded 



even the eternal welfare of his best and dearest 
friends ? Think of a man directing a friend to take 
a road which he afterward discovers leads to certain 
death, and then not lifting a finger of warning to save 
him from destruction, when it is in his power to do 

The Freethinker will require no other evidence to 
convince him that Lincoln died a disbeliever than 
the fact that he once fully investigated this subject 
and proclaimed himself an Infidel. The mere skep- 
tic who has no settled convictions who has never 
examined the evidences against historical Christian- 
ity may become a sincere believer in the Christian 
religion. The confirmed Freethinker never can, 
albeit a Thomas Cooper, a Joseph Barker and a 
George Chainey may profess to. As Col. Thomas 
Wentworth Higginson happily expresses it : " You 
may take the robin's egg from the nest in yonder 
tree, and so near is the bird to being hatched you 
may crack it with the edge of your nail, and the bird 
is free. But all your power, and all your patient 
fidelity, and all the mucilage and sticking plaster you 
can put on it, will never get that birdling back into 
that little egg again. So complete is the sense of 
satisfaction, such is the feeling of freedom, which 
comes from once finding yourself, not merely out of 
these little sectarian names, but out of the name of 
the larger and grander sect, which is Christianity, 


that you will find when the egg is once broken, the 
bird is free forever." 

From the church steward's standpoint, there is 
nothing so desirable as the early conversion of one 
who is destined to become rich. From the evangel- 
ist's point of view, there is nothing like the death- 
bed repentance of one who has become great. Had 
the bullet of the assassin not immediately destroyed 
consciousness, all these stories that we have heard 
about Lincoln's conversion the Edwards story, the 
Smith story, the Brooks story, the Willets story, the 
Vinton story, and the story of the Illinois clergyman 
would never have been invented. Instead of these 
we would have the story of some domestic, or some 
intruding priest who saw him during his dying 
hours. Aaron Burr was kinder to the church than 
John Wilkes Booth. 

But whatever the religious opinions of Lincoln 
were when he died, whether he had changed his be- 
lief or not, in view of the fact that he never thought 
enough of the church to unite with it, the frantic 
efforts of clergymen and church-members to claim 
him seem quite uncalled for, if not ridiculous. 

The opinion of a writer previously quoted in this 
work, is that the bitter war waged against the per- 
sons who have declared that Lincoln was not a 
Christian arises, not from a belief that they have 
stated what is false, but from a consciousness that 


the}' have " demolished an empty shrine that was 
profitable to many, and broken a painted idol that 
might have served for a god." It is strange how 
Christians tend toward fetichism. Not satisfied with 
three Gods, they must canonize and deify men and 
make saints and de mi-gods. They have already 
deified three Americans Washington, Grant, and 
Lincoln and what is remarkable, in each instance 
they have selected an unbeliever an Infidel. It is 
said that men have stolen the livery of heaven in 
which to serve the devil ; but it seems hardly con- 
sistent with the pretensions of the church that she 
should be compelled to appropriate the beadroll of 
Infidelity in order to make her appear respectable. 

Lincoln's speeches and state papers contain many 
allusions to Deity. As Colonel Lamon observes, 
" These were easy, and not inconsistent with his re- 
ligious notions." But it is a mistake to attribute all 
the Deistic expressions that appear in his state 
papers to him. Just how much of this was the work 
of his private secretaries, how much of it was 
" Seward's nonsense," or how much of it was 
suggested by Chase and other Cabinet ministers, can 
never be determined. It is significant, however, 
that in those documents of least importance, those 
which he would most likely leave to his secretaries 
or other officials to draft, these expressions are 
chiefly to be found. In his debates with Douglas, 


and his other great political speeches delivered in 
Illinois, he seldom refers to Deity. In his carefully 
prepared Cooper Institute address, that model of 
political addresses, the name of Deity does not once 
occur. In his First Inaugural Address, he refers to 
God, and makes a complimentary reference to Chris- 
tianity intended to conciliate the church and gain for * 
his administration its support in the coming struggle 
with the South. One paragraph of the second In- 
augural contains allusions to Deity and quotations 
from the Bible ; but in this address he makes no 
recognition of Christ or Christianity. Even his 
quotations from the Bible are made in a guarded 
manner which clearly indicates that he did not be- 
lieve in its divinity. In the Preliminary Proclama- 
tion of Emancipation, which was drafted by himself, 
the name of Deity does not appear. In the final 
Proclamation, an acknowledgment of God was in- 
serted only at the urgent request of Secretary Chase. 
The Emancipation Proclamation, with the possible 
exception of the Declaration of Independence and 

the Constitution of the United States, is the most 


important political document ever issued in 
America. He knew that this was the crowning act 
of his career, that it would place him among the im- 
mortals. In the preparation of this work he ex- 
panded much thought and labor, and it was his desire 
that it should be free from religious verbiage. In 


that masterpiece of eloquence, the Gettysburg 
oration, the name of God occurs but once, while not 
the remotest reference to Christianity or even im- 
mortality appears. When we take into consideration 
the fact that this address was made at the dedication 
of a cemetery, the significance of this omission can 
not be overlooked. This speech was the product of 
Lincoln's own mind free from the suggestions and 
emendations of others, and the occasion was too 
sacred to indulge in pious cant in which he did not 

The clergy parade Lincoln's recognitions of a 
Supreme Being as a triumphant refutation of the 
claim that he was an Infidel. Yet, at the same time, 
they do not hesitate to denounce as Infidels, Paine 
and Yoltaire, when they know, or ought to know, 
that two more profound and reverential believers in 
God never lived and wrote than Paine and Voltaire. 

If Infidelity and Atheism were synonymous terms 
it would be difficult to maintain that Lincoln, dur- 
ing the last years of his life at least, was an Infidel. 
But Infidelity and Atheism are not synonymous 
terms. An Atheist is an Infidel, but an Infidel is 
not necessarily an Atheist. A Presbyterian is a 
Christian, but all Christians are not Presbyterians. 
Christians themselves coined the word Infidel, and 
they have used it to denote a disbeliever in Chris- 
tianity. A disbelief or denial of Christianity is not 


necessarily a denial of God. Christians, many of 
them, regard the term as odious and as carrying 
with it the idea of immorality, notwithstanding the 
most intelligent and the most highly moral class in 
Christendom are these so-called Infidels. "Who are 
to-day's Infidels ?" says the Rev. William Charming 
Gannett. He answers : " Very many of the bright- 
est minds, the warmest hearts, the most loyal con- 
sciences, the most zealous seekers after God, the 
most honest tellers of what they find yes, and the 
most successful finders. Infidels to what are they? 
Not to morality : Infidels to morality are too wise to 
train with them." 

It is not claimed that Lincoln was wholly free 
from a belief in the supernatural. He possessed in 
some respects a simple, childlike nature, and carried 
with him through life some of the superstitions of 
childhood. But the dogmas of Christianity were 
not among them ; these he had examined and dis- 

As a proof of Lincoln's regard for Christian insti- 
tutions, great prominence is given to his proclama- 
tion to the army enjoining the observance of the 
Sabbath. This document gives expression to senti- 
ments regarding the sanctity of the Christian Sab- 
bath that Lincoln personally did not entertain. It 
was issued to appease the clamor of the clergy who 
demanded it, and was drafted, not by Lincoln, but 


by some pious Sabbatarian. Lincoln himself at- 
tached no more sanctity to Sunday than to other 
days. He worked on Sunday himself. In Spring- 
field his Sundays were frequently spent in preparing 
cases for court. In company with his boys he often 
passed the entire day making excursions into the 
country or rambling through the woods that skirted 
the Sangamon. He seldom went to church either 
in Springfield or Washington, the claims of some of 
his Christian biographers to the contrary notwith- 
standing. Previous to his nomination, in 1860, we 
find him sitting for a bust on Sunday in preference 
to attending church. On the Sunday immediately 
following his nomination an artist was busy with him 
molding his hands and taking negatives for a statue. 
The draft of the preliminary Proclamation of 
Emancipation was finished on Sunday. The last 
Sunday of his life was spent, not in studying the 
Scriptures, but in reading his beloved Shakespere. 

It was stated by friends of Lincoln that he gener- 
ally refrained from giving publicity to his religious 
opinions while in public life because of their unpop- 
ularity. In answer to this the Christian claimant 
retorts : " If this be true then he was a hypocrite." 
But let us be honest. Nearly every person enter- 
tains opinions which he does not deem it discreet or 
necessary to make public. You, my Christian friend, 
entertain doubts and heresies concerning your creed 


which you keep a secret or disclose only to your 
most intimate associates. If you, in private life, and 
not dependent upon the public, hide your unpopular 
thoughts from the world, can you consistently blame 
Lincoln for his silence when the fate of a nation 
depended upon him and the alienation even of a few 
bigots might turn the scales against him ? A Chris- 
tian general does not hesitate to deceive the enemy 
or withhold his plans even from his own soldiers. 
Again, the clergy are forever advising and entreating 
men not to publish their doubts and heresies. Is it 
consistent in them to condemn a man for following 
their advice ? 

The church should learn to respect honesty her- 
self before she charges others with dishonesty. It 
is the shame of Christianity that men have been 
obliged to conceal their honest convictions in order 
to escape ostracism and persecution. When the 
church herself becomes honest enough to tolerate 
and respect the honest opinions of those who cannot 
conscientiously accept her creed, then will it be time 
for her to charge Lincoln with hypocrisy for having 
partially withheld his unpopular views from religious 
ruffians. It does not evince a want of honesty, nor 
even a lack of moral courage, to flee from a tiger or 
avoid a skunk. 

To do good was Lincoln's religion. To live an 
honest, manly life to add to the sum of human 


happiness to make the world better for his having 
lived this was the aspiration of his life and the 
essence of his faith. 

In youth, the meanest creature found in him a 
friend, and if need be, a defender. He wrote essays 
and made speeches against cruelty to animals, and 
sought to impress upon his playmates' minds the 
sacredness of life. The same tender regard for the 
weak and unfortunate characterized his manhood. 
Whilst riding through a forest once with a party of 
friends, he saw a brood of young birds on the ground 
which a storm had blown from their nest. He dis- 
mounted from his horse, and after a laborious 
search, found the nest and placed the birdlings 
snugly in their little home. When he reached his 
companions, and was chided by them for his delay, 
he said : " I could not have slept to-night if I had 
not given those birds to their mother." 

The narration of his many deeds of kindness and 
mercy while at Washington would fill a volume. He 
loved to rescue an erring soldier boy from the jaws 
of death and fill a mother's eyes with tears of joy. 
He loved to dispel the clouds of sorrow from a wife's 
sad heart and warm it with the sunshine of happi- 
ness. He loved to take the child of poverty upon 
his knee and plant within its little breast the seeds 
of confidence and hope. 

A giant in stature, and a lion in strength and 


courage, he possessed the gentleness of a child and 
the tenderness of a woman. The sufferings, even of 
a stranger, would fill his eyes with tears, and the 
death of a friend would overwhelm him. In his 
tenth year his mother died, and for a time his heart 
was desolate and he could not be consoled. In his 
fifteenth year his only sister, a lovely, fragile flower, 
just blooming into womanhood, drooped and died, 
and life seemed purposeless to him again. Of his 
four children, two died while he was living Eddie, 
a fair-haired babe, and his beloved Willie. When 
death took these his sorrow was unutterable. The 
untimely death of his young friend, the gallant Colo- 
nel Ellsworth, at Alexandria, and the death of his 
life-long friend, the lamented Edwin F. Baker, at 
Ball's Bluff, were blows that staggered him. At the 
death of his good friend, Bowlin Green, he was 
chosen to deliver a funeral address. When the hour 
arrived, and he stepped forward to perform the 
sacred task, his eyes fell upon the coffin of his dead 
friend and for a time he stood transfixed helpless 
and speechless. The only tribute he could pay was 
the tribute of his tears. When he turned for the 
last time from the bedside of the beautiful Ann But- 
ledge, his betrothed, it was with a broken heart and , 
a mind dethroned. " Oh ! I can never be reconciled 
to have the snow, the rain, and the storm beat upon 
her grave," was the pitiful burden of his plaint for 


weeks. Reason after a time returned, but his wonted 
gladness never ; and down through all those event- 
ful years to that fatal April night when his own 
sweet life-blood slowly oozed away, beneath that 
sparkling surface of feigned mirth, drifted the mem- 
ory and the agonies of that great grief. 

In the social relations of life, he was a most exem- 
plary man. He was a devoted husband, an indulgent 
father, an obliging neighbor, and a faithful friend. 
Mrs. Colonel Chapman, a lady who lived for a time 
in his family, pays this tribute to his private life : 
" He was all that a husband, father, and neighbor 
should be, kind and affectionate to his wife and child, 
and very pleasant to all around him. Never did I 
hear him utter an unkind word." " His devotion to 
wife and children," says George W. Julian, " was as 
abiding and unbounded as his love of country." 
The strong attachment always manifested by him 
for his friends has often been remarked. liich and 
poor, great and humble, all were equally dear to him 
and alike the recipients of his regard and love. The 
prince he treated like a man, the humblest man he 
treated like a prince. Nothing in his career exhibits 
the greatness and nobleness of his character in a 
loftier degree than the cordial and unaffected manner 
in which, at Washington, in the midst of wealth, and 
splendor, and refinement, he was accustomed to 


receive and entertain the plain, uncultured friends of 
other days. 

Upon his rugged honesty, I need not dwell. The 
sobriquet of " Honest Abe ' was early won by him 
and never lost. In his profession a profession in 
which, too often, cunning and deceit, falsehood and 
dishonesty, are the means, and robbery the end a 
profession in which, too often, Injustice is a purpled 
Dives sitting at a bounteous board, and Justice, a 
ragged Lazarus lying at the gate he never wavered 
in his loyalty to truth, to justice, and to honesty. 
Engaged in a just cause, he was one of the most 
powerful advocates that ever addressed a judge or 
jury ; engaged in an unjust cause, he was the weakest 
member of his bar. In fact, he could not be in- 
duced to plead a cause in which he did not see some 
element of justice, even though the technicalities of 
law insured success. To one who had sought his 
services and had stated his case, he replied : " Yes, 
I can win it ; but there are some things legally right 
that are not morally right; this is one: I cannot 
take your case." He was once employed to defend 
a person accused of murder. As the trial pro- 
gressed, it became apparent to him that his client 
had done the deed. Turning to his associate 
counsel, with a look of disappointment and pain, he 
said : " Swett, the man is guilty ; you defend him ; I 
cannot." On another occasion, when he discovered 


that his client had grossly imposed upqn his con- 
fidence and instituted an unjust suit, he left the 
court-room, and when the bailiff called for him, he 
answered : " Tell Judge Treat that I can't come ; / 
have to wash my hands" 

He was the most magnanimous of men. William 
H. Seward, his chief opponent for the Presidential 
nomination, he made the Premier of his Cabinet. 
Secretary Chase became his political, if not his per- 
sonal, enemy. Yet, recognizing his fitness for the 
place, he waived all personal grievances and ap- 
pointed him to the exalted position of Chief Justice 
of the United States, the highest gift within the 
power of a President to bestow. During his profes- 
sional career he was sent to Cincinnati to assist 
Edwin M. Stanton in an important legal case. The 
grim Stanton had never met this plain, Western 
lawyer before, and displeased at his uncouth appear- 
ance, and apparent lack of ability, treated him so 
discourteously that Lincoln's self-respect compelled 
him to practically withdraw from the case. It was 
a brutal affront, too poignant for him ever to forget, 
but not to forgive, and linked together on one of the 
most momentous pages of history stand the names 

of Lincoln and Stanton, an enduring witness to his 

sublime magnanimity. 

The murder of this loving savior of our Union was 
a disastrous blow, not to the victorious North alone, 



but to the vanquished South as well. Could he have 
lived, the balm of his great, kindly nature would have 
quickly healed the nation's wounds. At the com- 
mencement of the conflict, in pleading tones, he said : 
"We are not enemies, but friends. 5 ' And at its 
close, notwithstanding all the cruel, bitter anguish 
he had endured during those four long years of 
fratricidal strife, " With malice toward none, with 
charity for all," he died, and many a brave Confed- 
erate deplored 

The deep damnation of his taking off. 

When Stonewall Jackson died, he paid a touching 
tribute to his gallantry, and said : " Let us forget 
his errors over his fresh-made grave." in the dark- 
ness of night, on a bloody field of the Peninsula, he 
bent beside the prostrate form of a dying soldier of 
the South, and while the hot tears rolled down his 
furrowed cheeks, soothed him with words of tender- 
est sympathy, and, by the dim rays of a lantern, took 
down from his lips a message to his mother, and 
sent it by a flag of truce into the enemies' lines to be 
transmitted to his home. 

Glorious apostle of humanity ! When shall we 
look upon his like again ? so honest, so truthful, so 
just, so charitable, so loving, so merciful ! Law 
was his God, justice his creed, and liberty his 
heaven. If he sinned, mercy prompted him. In 
the presence of such a man, and in the presence of 



such a religion, how contemptible your puny theo- 
logians and their narrow creeds appear ! Born 
in the cabin of a Western wild, dying in a na- 
tion's capital, its honored chief, enshrined in the 
hearts of an admiring world, Abraham Lincoln stands 
to-day the gentlest, purest, noblest character in hu- 
man history. Millenniums may pass away, unnum- 
bered generations come and go, creeds rise and 
fall ; but the divine faith of Freedom's martyr a 
faith based upon immutable law, eternal justice, uni- 
versal liberty a faith formulated not in perishable 
words, but in immortal deeds, will live through all 
the years to come, a torch of hope to every son of 


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What They Say About the Picture Book. 

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The Boston Investigator. 

Mr. Heston deserves to be called the artist-hero of Liberalism. He has de 
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Charles Watts in Secular Thought. 

The book deserves to be read far and wide. The cartoons are really exc 
teat, while the reading matter has been selected with great care and tas 
The two combined afford much amusement and convey a vast amount of ui 
ful information. The general " get-up " of the book is first-class, the cartoc 
are clean, the paper is good, and the printing is in large clear type. 

[See next 

2 represent Samples of christlanit 


5 " Missionaries. 
t The Lord's Instruments 
25 ' Bible Doctrines and th 


1 ' The Church and Slavery 
9 Priests and Politics. 

4 ' Ireland and the Church 

2 Church Idea of Clvl.l 


1 The Uses of the Cross. 
4 " Unkind Reflection on 1 


9 " Persecutions of the Chui 
12 Some Allegories. 

3 * Heaven. 
" Hell. 

T " Miscellaneous 

From the Denison Gazetteer t Texas. 

The illustrations truthfully represent church absurdities, priestly hypocrttv 
and religious tyranny, and the degrading effects of practicing many of the so- 
called revealed commands. The book is really an unanswerable argument oi 
symbols; it is folly sketched by reason. The expression of the characters is 
so lift-like, and the true inwardness of the subjects selected so well shown* 
that the book is enough to make even a preacher laugh. The texts accom- 
panying the illustrations are reliable and often from Scripture. The book is 
more than a collection of mere caricatures, it is a faithful illustration of false- 
hood and truths most ingeniously wrought out, every picture presenting an 
argument as convincing as it is entertaining. 

Moses Harmon in Lucifer. 

This method of teaching useful lessons is a most effoctlvoone. Mr. Heston 
is one of the very best of living rartoonists, and his pictures have been and 
will be the means of doing much good in the way of eliminat-ng old-time 

ro be appreciated the book must be seen. Each alternate page is filled with 
selections from well-known authors upon the subjects illustrated by the car- 
toons. These selections are printed in large and clear type, and altogether 
the book contains a storehouse of information, instruction and innocent 
amusement that it would be hard to find elsewhere at least hard to purchase 
elsewhere for the sum of $2. It takes a pile of money to get out a single copy 
of a work like this, and we sincerely hope the orders will be sent in thick ana 
fast, to gladden the hearts of the publishers and to make cheerful and happy 
the home* and lives of the purchasers. 

H. 0. Pentecost in Twentieth Century. 

Besides the pictures, there are a great number of pertinent quotations 
from great authors, living and dead, including Garibaldi, Professor Draper, 
Robert G. Ingersoll, President Dwight, Prof. Felix L. Oswald, Guizot, Lecky, 
Thomas Jefferson, Macau lay, Lafayette, George Washington, Walt Whitman, 
Benjamin Frank lin , and many others of equal fame and learning, embracing 
the realms of history, science, poetry, and theology. These quotations from 
great authors are, in themselves, worth the price of the book, and are suffi- 
cient to furnish a liberal education on the subjects of which they treat. The 
pictures are in Watson Boston's well-known style ; not particularly good in 
drawing, but graphic and easy to understand. The artist does not work in 
the best style of art, but he never fails to make his meaning understood, and 
the book is calculated to shock, startle, persuade and teach. It will be a 
pleasure to those who are familiar with the persistent work of THE TRUTH 
SEEKER against superstition and mental slavery on religious questions, and a 
profit to those who are prepared to read it and calmly reflect on its facto and 

J. D. Shaw in the Independent Pulpit. 

This is a wonderful book and will do effective work in showing. the aosurdity 
and untruthfulness of the church's claim to be a divine and beneficent institu- 
tion, and in forecasting the abuses of union of church and state. 

Elmina D. Slenker. 

It is all and more than I anticipated a volume calculated to impress forci- 
bly on the mind those wrongs it wars against, and to imprint them indelibly 
and ineffaceably upon the memory. You can never forget a single one of 
them. Written words may pass away, spoken words be lost, but the pictures 
stay forever and forever. 

The book contains nearly 4OO pages, 9 z 12 inches, bound in boards, 

illuminated covers, postpaid, $2.OO ; bound in silk cloth, 

ink and gold side stamps, postpaid 92. SO. 


38 Lafayette Place, New York City. 

. . " 






Published by Tme TBUTH SEEKER COMPANY, 8L*fayettePL, New York. 
Heavy paper, handsomely bound in cloth, $1.00 , paper covers, 50 cents. 


indent news- 


>ages, while its Sunday edition often reaches twenty. Helen H. Gardener may 
herefore congratulate herself that her book has induced so widely read a 
ournal to give its world an opinion BO damaging to the claims of Christianity 
aa the following notice of "Men, Women, and Gods :"] 

" Men* Women and Gods, and Other Lectures," by Helen H. Gardener, is a 
duodecimo volume of about 186 pages, containing three lectures with an 
appendix, setting forth some of the authorities from which the lecturer draws 
tome of her material. 

The first lecture gives the title to the book, the second is on " Vicarious 
Atonement." and the third on " Historical Facts and Theological Fictions." 

All are keen, vigorous, and acrid attacks on the Christian church forms of 
theology. They can scarcely be said to be attacks on religion or religious feel- 
ing, since the flower of that plant is charity of thought and action, and in this 
Miss Gardener sees the highest end of man's emotional side, as in absolute 
freedom of investigation and opinion she sees the highest end of his intellectual 
side. Her leading purpose seems to be to show that women, of all persons, 
should least support the Bible and the churches which hold it in reverence. 

The first lecture is a surprisingly bitter and scathing denunciation of the 
Old Testament as the sum of all cruelty and brutality toward women, and she 
makes upastartlingly strong case from the pages of the book itself. If any one 
does not think the case can DC made strong let him read carefully this book and 
also the thirty-first chapter of " Numbers." 

The second lecture arraigns vicarious atonement as an inexcusable injustice 
in itself, weakening and corrupting in its influence, like indiscriminate alms- 
giving, and points out that it is not peculiar to Christianity, but is found in 
some form in every religious system known in history. 

Both these lectures are strong productions, but are disfigured with a good 
deal of flippant phrasing, designed, no doubt, to catch the popular attention by 
tickling the popular ear. The lecturer's strongest work is done in the third 
lecture, where her purpose is to show that our civilisation is in no sense based 
upon Christianity, and that the Christian religion has especially not contrib- 
uted to the elevation of woman in any respect. Here she drops largely her 
lippancy of style and settles down to earnest work. 

Civilization she holds to be chiefly the creature of environment, the basis of 
which, in this world, is in climate and soil. In support of Vr view of the posi- 
tion of woman she quotes largely from Sir Henry Maine, showing among other 
things that the position of woman in Roman law and usage, before the intro- 
duction of Christianity, was in advance of what it is even now in some respects, 
and that the tendency of the canon (church) law was invariably to force her 
back into the degradation from which she had been rescued by a long and 
painful evolution. 

In this lecture, too, she answers the questions as to what she would substi- 
tute for the sanctions of Christianity, and she takes considerable pains to 
how. what one would think need scarcely be insisted upon in our day, that the 
morals of civilization morals in general, indeed we not at all based in or 
dependent upon religiom, certainly not on Christianity) rinoe the *r -called 
** golden rule," the highest principle of morality} antedates 
tboaMnd yean* 


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